When a couple unites in marriage, one of the first things they aspire to do is to buy a joint property. And as with any marriages, the plan is always to keep to their vow of “till death do us apart”. But not everyone has the luck of keeping their marriage together. And when divorce happens, many other complications follow – assets division and property settlements being the most common ones.

For the comparatively lucky ones who can go for an amicable settlement, assets and property divisions can be done out of court. They can either agree to settle the loan and divide the proceeds as they see fit or one partner can choose to sell their share to the other. 

If a peaceful compromise can not be reached, the couple has no choice but to involve the rule of law. More often than not, this is the path that is taken because assets and property settlement is not as straightforward as dividing them on a 50-50 basis. So, involving the law and the court is quite common in divorce settlements. What complicates the matter more is the fact that the law allows interpretation of non-matrimonial properties and property acquired before marriage as matrimonial property. Meaning even if the property is under sole-ownership or bought before the nuptials, the other party may still claim for a portion of the share, provided the court allows it.

So, how does the court decide on the division of the matrimonial property?

After the amendment of Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976, the court is able to deliver a more fair decision on asset divisions and property settlements without creating a bias between money-earners and home-makers. The court also no longer has to see if the matrimonial assets are acquired on a joint or sole effort. 

The court takes into account both financial and non-financial contribution of both the parties in the duration of the marriage when deciding on the division ratio and the court can decide on equal division although it is not mandatory. 

When Things Get Complicated

Things may get even messier and more complex than expected and it is always best to hire experienced lawyers to represent you so that you can walk away with the optimum settlement. 

Experienced lawyers can walk you through your settlement process prior to the divorce proceeding, during the process and even after the divorce takes place. From preserving and preventing the dissipation of assets by your spouse and protecting and safeguarding your assets to discovering and tracing assets that are not revealed by your spouse, having lawyers who are passionate and compassionate can help you go through your property settlement process without feeling overwhelmed.

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