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The process of property settlement during a divorce or separation can be one of the most challenging aspects of family law in Australia. It involves the division of assets and liabilities between parties, and understanding this process is crucial for anyone going through a separation. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the property settlement process as it stands in 2023. 

Understanding Property Settlement 

Property settlement in family law refers to the division of assets and liabilities between parties following a separation or divorce. This includes real estate, savings, investments, superannuation, and debts. The goal is to achieve a division that is just and equitable for both parties. 

The Legal Framework 

The Family Law Act 1975 governs the process of property settlement in Australia. While there have been discussions and proposals for reforms to simplify the process, as of 2023, these changes have not yet been implemented. Therefore, the existing legal framework continues to guide the property settlement process. 

The Settlement Process 

Identification of Assets and Liabilities: The first step is to identify all assets and liabilities of both parties. This includes everything owned individually or jointly. 

Valuation of Assets: Once identified, assets need to be valued. This may require professional valuations, especially for properties or businesses. 

Assessment of Contributions: The court assesses the contributions made by each party during the relationship. This includes financial, non-financial, and homemaking contributions. 

Consideration of Future Needs: Factors such as age, health, financial resources, care of children, and earning capacity are considered to determine each party’s future needs. 

Achieving a Just and Equitable Outcome: The final step is for the court to decide on a division of assets that is just and equitable, considering all the above factors. 

Court or Out-of-Court Settlements 

Couples are encouraged to reach an agreement outside of court through negotiation or mediation. If an agreement is reached, it can be formalized through a Consent Order or a Binding Financial Agreement. If parties cannot agree, the matter may proceed to court, where a judge will decide based on the legal principles outlined above. 

Time Limits 

It’s important to note that there are time limits for applying for a property settlement. For married couples, the application must be made within one year of the divorce becoming final. For de facto relationships, the application must be made within two years of the relationship ending. 


The property settlement process in Australian family law requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities. While the process can be complex, understanding the steps involved and seeking legal advice can greatly assist in navigating this challenging aspect of separation or divorce. 

For personalized advice and assistance with your property settlement, contact the experienced team at Cudmore Legal. We are committed to providing expert guidance and support throughout your property settlement journey. 

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