Housing Crisis in Family Law

Its the Aussie dream – owning a home.

We are all striving to own one, upgrade one, renovate one. Its no wonder the television channels are stumbling over themselves in an attempt to satisfy our appetites for all things brick and mortar with shows like The Block and Better Homes and Gardens.

Watch the shows and you will know how to protect your property against white ants, weed attacks and weather assaults. The shows strive to feed our need (or is it interest?) to know how to not only protect our houses but also know how much they are worth at any given month regardless of whether or not we want to sell.

Don’t agree with me? Check the finance section of any Australian newspaper at any given day and if there is nothing there on auctions, latest property trends and/or prices then go out and enjoy the blue moon.

One thing the shows and papers won’t tell you though is what happens to your house following the end of a relationship. Who keeps it and who leaves it?

A very common myth is that whoever bought the house in their name gets to keep it. Especially if they ‘paid all the mortgage’ themselves while the other spouse ‘stayed at home all day’.

But any family lawyer will tell you that at a property settlement, the court will consider all contributions when determining a case. These contributions come in all shapes and forms, the direct, the indirect and the dollar-related (these terms can loosely be related to The Block and Better Homes and Gardens – think the direct cash poured into a property, the renovations increasing the value of the property and the one spouse taking care of the children and cooking the latest storm while the other brings home the bacon).

So to get realistic and reliable advice from your family lawyer on the most likely outcome in your property matter (and to discuss options for keeping or leaving your property), don’t only discuss all your contributions to the family home but tell your solicitor about any contributions your partner may have made to the property as well.

By Nadia Messiha

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