It is a common misconception by people that when a couple separate, the property is to be divided equally. This is certainly not always the case.
If one person contributed significantly more to the relationship, either financially, through home-making duties and/or caring for the children or otherwise, depending on when and how much that contribution was, that person might be entitled to receive more in the property settlement.
The Court considers and weighs up each person’s contributions to the relationship. An inheritance, renovations or improving a property, or property brought into the relationship can swing the division in favour of one party.
Another reason that property might not be divided equally is that often each person is leaving the relationship in different circumstances, such as higher/lower income, having the expense of caring for the children, continuing medical expenses etc. These circumstances are all taken into account to ensure the future needs of the parties are looked after.
An equal property division can happen in some cases if both partners made equal contributions and are leaving the relationship with similar circumstances, ie they are a similar age, they have similar incomes, the children have grown or there are no children etc.
The overall intention is a property division that is just and equitable. This means looking at the effect of the settlement. Can both parties afford to live? Do they have suitable accommodation? Are the children being provided for? Does one party need more cash now than superannuation? All of these factors can mean that 50/50 is not the right division.
In some cases, both parties may have agreed to divide the property equally without legal advice. Unfortunately, in many cases, a 50/50 division may not properly provide for future circumstances. It is best to seek legal advice so that you can make an informed decision about any agreement reached. Seeking legal advice does not mean that you cannot still enter into the agreement. It is merely an avenue available to ensure you are making the right decision.