Make it Legal: Amicable Separations Should Not Rely on Informal Agreements

by 48 Minutes | Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 | 72 views

Divorced couple back to backSeparating couples who remain amicable during their divorce process should be able to iron out settlements with little difficulty. The process speeds up considerably when both parties are in agreement as to which marital assets should go to whom. However, things could get complicated in the future if the couple doesn’t make them legal and binding.

A separating couple may be cordial during the divorce process, but there’s no telling what the relationship will be several years down the road. According to lawyer Chris Nyst of Nyst Legal, a law practice in Southport, Australia, there have been instances when divorced couples who made informal agreements on property divisions end up in legal battles years after because of the lack of binding agreements.

Verbal agreements over a handshake are not legally binding; only decisions made in family court will determine the property rights of each party.

Leave No Room for Future Conflict

To protect your rights and financial security after your divorce, formalise any agreement that you and the other party arrive at. There are two ways to do this: by filing a financial agreement or by asking the court to make property and financial orders based on the terms you both agreed on. This gives a legal bearing on any claims either of you will make in the future.

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The Family Law Act 1975 has laid out the general principles for deciding financial disputes following a marriage breakdown. Those guidelines will still take hold, but the court will give greater consideration to formal orders.

Formal Consent Orders for Children

Aside from agreements on property division and financial support, you may also apply to the Court to formalise parenting arrangements. However, the Child Support Agency is the department responsible for assessing and administering child support payments. There will be conditions in adherence to the Child Support Assessment Act and, in limited circumstances, the Act allows parents who are dissatisfied with the decisions made by the Agency to apply directly to the court to have that decision reviewed.

The Family Court of Australia encourages divorcing couples to settle outside of court. This doesn’t mean that you should remove the legal process from the equation altogether. For your security, and your children’s as well, if you have any, apply for formal orders and make everything legal.

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