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Craig approached Watson & Watson in relation to the breakdown of his same sex de facto relationship with Donald following their separation in 2013. Donald and Craig had been in the de facto relationship since 2002 and lived in Sydney.
Craig wanted advice as to the appropriate resolution and also more importantly, protection from any further claims in the future.
Craig works for a large bank and earns significantly more than Donald, who works in full-time employment.
At the commencement of the relationship Craig had more assets than Donald. Each of Craig and Donald owned a property in their own names which following the commencement of the relationship and purchase of their home, were investment properties.
To a degree the assets had been kept separate. They lived together in a house purchased together in joint names. Craig made a greater contribution to the purchase price. Initially, Craig and Donald agreed to pay the mortgage equally. However, Craig has paid more than half of the mortgage payments on their home. Craig helped Donald to pay some of the mortgage and instalments required on his investment property. Each had superannuation and a car which was subject to a lease and each had their own separate personal debts including credit cards. They also had some investments and shareholdings held together in joint names.
In 2013 Donald and Craig separated when Donald moved into his Sydney investment apartment and Craig stayed in the home they had purchased together.
Donald and Craig continued to work and agreed that it was appropriate to separate their financial arrangements.
Craig was worried that Donald will not manage well financially without his help and may waste what he receives in the property settlement. Craig wants a clean break and for the property to be separated and each of Craig and Donald to look after their own financial position in the future and for there to be no claim in the future.
Craig sought advice from Watson & Watson. As separation occurred after 1 March 2009 the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have power to make orders in relation to division of property following the breakdown of a de facto relationship including same sex relationships. In those circumstances the Court can make adjustments and order either the transfer of property or payment of funds by one party to another to give account to the adjustment.
Dennis Grant, Senior Family Law Solicitor of Watson & Watson advised Craig as to the likely outcomes and assisted in negotiating an agreement with Donald who had instructed separate representation. Effectively each of Craig and Donald retained their own investment property and other assets and Craig bought out Donald of the jointly owned home and the jointly owned share portfolio and the investment portfolio was divided.
As the settlement had been properly structured and documented Craig was able to obtain a stamp duty exemption for the transfer of the jointly owned home to him.
Craig was also concerned as to whether Donald would make any further claim including a claim on Craig’s estate. The appropriate documentation was prepared. In these circumstances the appropriate documentation were consent orders approved by the Court as to division and property adjustment, and a binding financial agreement providing releases in relation to any future spousal maintenance claims. In addition, an appropriate Deed and steps were taken for there to be a release by Donald of any right to contest Craig’s estate.
Craig was satisfied as to the resolution but more importantly Craig has peace of mind as the documentation is in a form that is effective and binding and allows each of Craig and Donald to move on without concern as to further claim in the future.
If you wish to discuss the appropriateness of a settlement or the appropriate documentation to give effect to the settlement including the processes and a cost effective means of resolving the matter, please contact Richard Watson or Dennis Grant, Senior Family Law Solicitor, Watson & Watson or Richard Watson’s Personal Assistant, Shereen Da Gloria.
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