The Biggest Myth About Separation & Asset Ownership

June 27, 2019

I heard this really scary thing the other day. “If a girl moves in with me and lives with me for 6 months, she’s automatically entitled to 50% of assets!”

There are many myths floating around when it comes to family law and separation. Just the other day, a friend said to me the exact words above. He had heard it from a friend of a friend who had told him that this exact thing had happened to him – a girl had moved into his house, helped to pay for some electricity bills, they had separated 6 months later, and she walked away with 50% of his assets.  To this I told him, that is NOT how the Family Law Act works! 

The first problem…

The first major problem with the above is that it is unlikely that the above 6-month relationship would have qualified for a de facto claim to a property settlement under the Family Law Act 1975.  A de-facto claim generally requires the parties to be living together for a 2-year period. If you have not lived with your partner for over 2 years, it is unlikely you will be able to qualify for a de facto property settlement claim. The only circumstances this could change is if there is a child of the relationship or some substantial contributions made by you to the relationship such that there would be a serious injustice if a property settlement order was not made by the Court. 

The second problem…

The second major problem with the above is that among several other factors, the Court considers the length of a relationship and what assets each party had before entering the relationship when they are making a determination as to how to divide a property pool between parties.  Keeping this in mind, if the relationship was of a period of 6 months and one party had substantially greater assets than the other at the commencement of the relationship, it is very unlikely that the Court will determine that a 50/50 division of the property pool is a just and equitable outcome. 

The third problem…

The third major problem in the above situation is that it appears that the female partner’s contribution to the relationship was by way of paying for some electricity bills. One of the factors a Court can take into account when they are assessing a property settlement is the contribution made by both parties to the relationship. This includes contributions such as income, paying bills, paying for household expenses, any care contributions made to children, completion of household tasks among several other considerations. The contribution to electricity bills, although relevant, in and of itself would be unlikely to entitle someone to 50% of a property pool. 

The bottom line…

Overall, it is very unlikely that a partner who has moved in with you for 6 months can walk away with 50% of your assets. However, of course, it is impossible to tell what the true extent of the above story was and whether there were other factors that entitled her to receive a portion of her partner’s assets by way of a property settlement. 

The real takeaway message from here is that you should take with a grain of salt everything you hear about your family law property entitlements.  It’s always a good idea to speak to a lawyer to get a clear and accurate understanding of your situation. 

We offer a 2-hour fixed fee STRATEGY SESSION where we will listen to your story, answer any of your questions or concerns and detail some options that will help you make the best decisions for you and move forward.  Get in touch!



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

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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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