Don contacted us to help him negotiate a property settlement with his wife Margaret. *
Don and Margaret had been married for 27 years. They have three adult children and both work. They are a typical family at this stage of life, own their own home (with a mortgage), two cars and some savings. They each have superannuation, Don’s $125,000 and Margaret has $85,000 as she remained at home to care for the children when they were young.
Marrying young, neither had any assets of significance. Everything they own today was the result of the hard work of both throughout their relationship. Neither of them received an inheritance or other windfall payment, such as worker’s compensation, during their relationship. Their contributions to their property pool were equal.
Don and Margaret are of similar age. Both are healthy and will be able to carry on working until retirement. Neither had any circumstances which justified an adjustment so that one received more than the other.
Given these facts, a property settlement providing them each with an equal share would be the most likely outcome if a court were to decide the matter.
An important part of any property settlement is knowing the parties’ goals and trying to achieve those.
Don told us that he wanted to keep the home while Margaret wanted a cash payment so that she could buy herself a small unit to live in and have something left over. We negotiated based on satisfying what they both wanted.
Don was able to refinance the mortgage on the home into his sole name and borrow enough funds to pay Margaret a cash amount. They each ended up with 50% of what they had owned together.
It is important to note that every couple has a different set of circumstances which will determine what is a “fair” property settlement under the Family Law Act. Even though Don and Margaret’s property settlement gave them an equal share, there is no rule that says this should be the case every time.
*Not their real names.
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