Property Abroad in Divorce Settlement: How is This Divided?
If you or your ex-spouse own property abroad and are navigating your way through a divorce settlement, this can make the entire divorce process longer, more stressful, and more complicated.
It is important to speak to experienced lawyers with expertise in this area who can advise on what the legalities are, your rights to the assets, and how to keep track of assets you have overseas before you head to the courts.
Here’s some advice from Pullos Lawyers on what the court will consider, and how best to ensure the division of property abroad in a divorce settlement is as fair as possible.
Keep All Documentation of Your Property Abroad
Even if you are happily married, we advise that documents that pertain to all property abroad held by either spouse are kept in a place both can easily access. In the instance you do have to go through the process of a divorce settlement, this will help to ensure that neither of you are accused of hiding your property.
How Much of My Property Overseas Must I Disclose?
You must disclose to the courts, and each other, all property owned by either spouse, including property overseas. If the courts believe you are hiding assets overseas, this can damage your case. The failure to disclose all property abroad may result in you or your ex-spouse receiving a lesser settlement than originally entitled to, or the prospect of jail time.
Even inadvertently failing to disclose property abroad may result in the denial of a divorce settlement, or invalidation of the final order, meaning you have to go through the entire settlement process an additional time.
How Will Our Overseas Property Be Divided?
While receiving a 50/50 share between both parties when it comes to dividing property abroad in a divorce settlement is often the desired outcome, the truth is, it’s not always that simple.
The answer depends on whether the property settlement is decided in Australia or in the overseas country or state in which your property is held.
It is often the case that there will be a choice, or at least alternatives, as to which country (and in the case of some overseas countries which state or province) is the appropriate one to determine the property settlement issues.
Every country has different laws and rules to follow. In some countries, for example, there is an assumption of a 50/50 division, which is very different to the current law in Australia. In some countries assets acquired prior to the marriage or relationship are excluded while in other countries they are not – again different from the position in Australia. There are different approaches across the world to the question about whether non-financial contributions are taken account of and if so how much weight is given to them.
The Family Law Act 1975 is used to determine who gets what in a divorce settlement. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, however the court does consider the following in making a determination in both assets owned in Australia, as well as overseas:
- What you've got and what you owe. This includes your assets and your debts, and a calculation of what they are worth
- The direct financial contributions by each party to the marriage or de facto relationship such as wage and salary earnings
- Indirect financial contributions by each party such as gifts and inheritances from families
- Non-financial contributions to the marriage or de facto relationship such as caring for children and homemaking, and
- Future requirements – a court will take into account things like age, health, financial resources, care of children and your ability to earn.
How Can I Ensure the Property Settlement is Enforced Overseas?
When it comes to ensuring the property abroad in a divorce settlement is upheld, it can be difficult to enforce. Your best option is to engage the help of your lawyers. Pullos Lawyers can liaise with solicitors overseas as well as the courts to ensure the court order is upheld.
Want to Speak To An Expert About the Division of Property Abroad in a Divorce Settlement?
The best way to avoid unnecessary complications or additional stress on top of the emotional turmoil of a relationship breakdown is to seek legal advice as soon as you can. Pullos Lawyers have over 30 years’ experience navigating divorces, international disputes, property settlement, asset and estate administration and many other international family law issues. Please contact us or phone us on (07) 5526 3646 so we can help.