Ex husband, wife or spouse delaying property settlement

Why does an ex husband, wife or spouse delay a financial settlement?

An ex may be motivated to delay a financial settlement for multiple reasons. Ex’s may try to remain in control of certain assets, particularly if those assets financially benefit them, for example refusing to sell a house they live in rent-free. Or ex’s might not be ready to move on or they may believe that they will get a more favourable outcome by delaying a property settlement.

How do ex’s delay property settlements? 

An ex can delay property settlement by refusing to engage in the disclosure process or not complying correctly.

All parties involved in a property settlement must provide all information relevant to an issue in the case, most usually finances. If this is not done, offers to settle cannot be fairly made without knowing all the information relevant to making a fair offer. Read more about disclosure requirements here.  

An ex can delay property settlement by not engaging meaningfully in attempts to resolve the matter. 

They could do this by refusing all reasonable offers, not making offers themself, refusing to attend mediation; this list goes on.  

An ex can delay property settlement by intentionally missing mortgage repayments. 

Suppose repayments are not made on time, and either you want to buy out your ex-partner of their share of the house or the other way around. In that case, you may not qualify to refinance the home due to most banks’ requirement to prove six months of perfect payments. 

An ex can delay property settlement by ignoring you altogether. 

Your ex could not respond to any attempts you make to contact them to arrange a financial settlement. They could be doing this to delay until the time limit to bring proceedings is up.  

ex's delaying property settlement

What are the benefits of delaying a property settlement? 

Your ex husband, wife or spouse might see the benefits of delaying a property settlement in certain circumstances such as:

  • if an asset is about to increase in value;
  • a party is due to receive an inheritance; or even
  • to wait out the time limit to commence proceedings to try to bar property settlement proceedings altogether.

What are the disadvantages of delaying a property settlement? 

It’s generally not wise to delay a property settlement for many reasons:

  • property settlements are calculated at the date of the property settlement, not the date of the separation; this means anything earnt or lost after a breakup is included in the total property pool;
  • assets can be sold or disposed of, lowering the value of the asset pool – this could be withdrawing money from a joint bank account, drawing down on the mortgage, running credit cards to their limits, attempting to sell a car our house, or taking valuable items;
  • assets could be disposed of that you didn’t even know in existence; and
  • in the event of the death of your ex husband, wife or spouse – you could potentially miss out on doing the property settlement altogether.

Is there a time limit on a property settlement? 

Yes – time limits do apply. For a de facto party, a claim can be made from the date of separation until two years after a breakup. For married parties, upon divorce, the parties will only have one year to commence proceedings. However, if a couple is married and not yet divorced, no time limits apply. 

What to do if your ex is delaying a property settlement? 

The first step would be to write to your ex proposing prompt and full disclosure. You may want to include a time limit for them to provide this disclosure and to make offers. You can apply to the court seeking an order for disclosure if your ex refuses to disclose or you have evidence they are not revealing everything.

If the disclosure process has already taken place, the next step is to book in for mediation. If they refuse to go to mediation and all attempts to negotiate are failing due to your ex’s delay, you can bring an application to the court for a property settlement.