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Property Settlement After Separation

Discussing property in a divorce can be complex. Here are some helpful things to guide your decision making during a separation.

Knowing what to do with property in a divorce can be a challenge

If you’re separating and own property with your ex-spouse, remember:

  1. Remain in the shared property until you have sought legal advice. By moving out, you may be relinquishing your entitlement to the possession of the property.
  2. A claim on property must be made within 12 months of a Divorce Order for married couples or within 2 years of break-up or separation for de facto couples.  Keeping this in mind, it is essential that you make prompt inroads to your property and financial settlements.
  3. The key professionals that you will need to consult during this decision making and strategy process are your Westpac Home Finance Manager and your family lawyer. Your lawyer will want to explore your financial position as well as the assets and liabilities in the union/marriage before making any recommendations regarding property.

If you own property together

If you own property with your ex-spouse or partner, options that you might like to explore for financial settlement include:

  1. Selling any property and dividing the equity.
  2. Assuming sole responsibility of the mortgage (releasing your ex).
  3. Re-financing the mortgage to pay out your ex.
  4. Releasing your responsibility of the mortgage and signing over the title of the property to your ex in lieu of an equity pay-out from them.
  5. Creating an arrangement between you for one of you to live in the home for a defined period of time with an agreement regarding the financial responsibilities (mortgage payments and outgoings) and division of the property at the end of the defined period.

If you’re considering taking over the mortgage

If you’re considering taking over the mortgage, re-financing or applying for a new home loan, remember:

  1. You will require a job or source of stable income that can support you, your family/dependents and accommodate any mortgage repayments.
  2. You will need payslips or proof of the income to provide during the application process.
  3. It’s wise to allow for some financial ‘buffer’ to anticipate interest rate rises or unexpected expenses.
  4. The bank will consider your previous mortgage payment history and the current affordability of the loan based on your monthly expenses.
  5. Consider which home loan is right for you. Visit our home loans pages or request a call back.

Your Westpac Home Finance Manager can help you understand your approved home loan limit and what you need to do to proceed. Once you’ve spoken with them, you will then be able to put forward a financial settlement offer, in consultation with your family lawyer, to your ex-spouse.

You can make an appointment with your local Westpac Home Finance Manager to discuss your current situation and the options available to you.

If you are concerned about your finances or if you are struggling to meet any payments, please talk to the Westpac team – there are many options we offer that could help ease the financial strain.

If you’re selling a property.

If a joint decision to sell the home has been made, we can provide you with a comprehensive property report and guide (PDF 127KB) to selling your home to help maximise your return.

An important part of this process is choosing an agent best suited to you. Westpac has partnered with and developed a number of interview questions (PDF 59KB) to help make your decision that little bit easier.