What am I entitled to? Understanding divorce settlements

March 29, 2022

Understanding divorce settlements — from how they work to what you’re entitled to — can be overwhelming and confusing. 

Couple that with the fact that you’re likely hearing a million different things from different people and it can feel downright impossible to know what’s fact and what’s fiction.

While I can’t tell you what exactly you’re entitled to without understanding your unique circumstances, I can break down the process used to calculate who gets what.

How are divorce settlements calculated?

There’s a range of factors that come into play when determining how to divide assets and finances in a separation. Here’s how it typically goes down:

Step 1: The Asset Pool

Both parties need to fully disclose the value of their assets and liabilities (i.e. property, salaries, loans, mortgages, etc), this includes what you own and owe individually and as a couple.

Step 2: Contributions made during the relationship

This looks at the individual contributions each party made during the relationship.

This can be financially (e.g. your wages, salary or property owned), indirectly financial (e.g. carrying out renovations) or in terms of care contributions (i.e. parenting and homemaking responsibilities).

Step 3: Determining the future needs of both parties 

This is done by reviewing a number of factors which can include: 

  • Each party’s capacity to earn;
  • Any health concerns or factors that would impact on earning capacity, and the associated costs;
  • The age of each person (is retirement on the horizon?) 
  • Whether one party will have more responsibility for the care of children;
  • If the person requires a certain standard of living (due to health reasons or otherwise);
  • What child support is being paid;
  • Any financial resources that may be available to either party (e.g. an inheritance, or a military pension).

For instance, older women or single mothers are statistically more likely to see a significant drop in their standard of living after a divorce — this is due to not having the capacity to earn as much after not working for a significant period during the marriage. Factors such as this are taken into at this step of the legislative process.

Step 4: Is it fair? 

We then look at all these contributions and future needs factors in a holistic way to determine what division is appropriate in the particular circumstances. 

Common divorce settlement misconceptions

Are both parties entitled to half of everything?

A common misconception when it comes to dividing assets is that both parties will naturally just get half of everythingBut here’s the thing — no two settlements are the same. While the split could be 50/50 — it could also be 60/40, 70/30, and so on. Even if the division is the same, the factors that are relevant may be very different.

Assets held by one party or owned before the relationship will be excluded?

Generally speaking, every asset held in by you and your Ex goes into the shared property pool — regardless of who’s name the house is in or who’s money was used to purchase a property. 

But, like everything else in family law, there can be exceptions. There are times when we may not put all the assets in one property pool and will look at each asset individually to identify each party’s interest. 

If you’re going into a relationship with assets, then the only way to create some level of legal protection of your assets is to have a binding financial agreement. 

The person who earned the most money in the relationship gets more?

Not the case! A person may have contributed more financially to a relationship, but the other person may have contributed in other, equally important ways. When deciding on the financial split, these contributions are all taken into account.

You have to go to court to get a divorce settlement

Also not true — you don’t have to go to court (and we recommended avoiding it, if possible).  This only becomes an eventuality if both parties are unable to reach a resolution. 

How to divide your assets and liabilities can be negotiated outside court or within the court structure. 

Negotiating settlements is where we spend the majority of time and it’s actually where we bring our magic sauce to helping people get a solution without having to go to court. 

As it turns out, the majority of people are able to reach a resolution in this way. We only go to court 3 out of every 60 matters we work on, and all of those matters that go to court, we settle without having to get a judge to make a decision. 


Because we know giving people the power to make decisions about their own finances and how they move forward, it is a powerful way to step into the next chapter on your own terms.

When you’re ready here a few things we can help you with…

You can book in a FREE 30 minute Clarity Call to discuss your situation and get answers to the issues causing you the most stress right now.

You can download our How to Survive the First 90 Days After Separation Guide which is jam-packed with easy, actionable steps you can take in the early days of your separation as you start to uncover and plan how you want to move forward.

You can connect with us on Instagram and Facebook where we share heaps of tips, tools and strategies to support you on your separation journey.


This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or any other professional advice.

Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

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