Important: Application for Consent Order Forms Updated

The Courts have updated the Application for Consent Order. After 7 June 2024, earlier versions will no longer be accepted. If filing in the Family Court of Western Australia the earlier versions of the Application will no longer be accepted after 4 June 2024.

If you have generated an Application for Consent Orders using amica, please ensure you file the Application electronically on the Commonwealth Courts Portal before 7 June 2024, or the eCourts Portal of Western Australia before 4 June 2024.

All Applications generated in amica after 7 June 2024 will automatically be updated for filing, or 4 June 2024 for WA.

Soaring property prices can help with your fresh start

By amica

Soaring property prices can help with your fresh start

With property prices in many parts of Australia at record highs, many homeowners have never felt better off. Strangely, these record high prices may also lead to more couples separating.

Studies in countries including the United States and Korea have found that couples who own or are paying off their home are more likely to separate when property prices are high. Meanwhile, couples who rent are more likely to stay together in a hot market because living apart is less affordable.

If you are separating and you own property, here are some options to consider:

Option 1: You continue living together, despite no longer being in a relationship

Perhaps this is the ultimate example of an amicable separation, or else it’s brought on by necessity which was the case for many separating couples during COVID lockdowns. There may be practical advantages such as the ability to co-parent in-situ, and financial savings but it can make it difficult to move on.

Option 2: One of you continues living in your home after you split

This may sound appealing, but it really comes down to whether you agree on who will stay and if it’s possible financially.

Unless you are wealthy enough to have two or more properties or other valuable assets to ‘divide’ or ‘swap’, whichever one of you stays in the home may need to buy the other party out. This could involve refinancing your mortgage, if you have one, or borrowing money against the home if you do not.

As at October 2021, the median price of property in Sydney was just shy of $1.5m, having jumped 30% in previous 12 months. With the average mortgage in NSW already at $760,800 it can be extremely difficult for one party to take on, or even be approved for a financial commitment of this size.

If you are considering remaining in your home, it’s best to meet with your bank or other lender to see what your options are. In some places, stamp duty is waived on the transfer of property if there is a court order. You can check out the rules in your location by calling your local free Legal Help Line. It might help you decide whether you want to get court orders.

An alternative is coming to a short-term arrangement, so that your child may finish school in the same location, for example. In this instance, alternative financial arrangements may need to be agreed to ensure the party who is moving out is fairly compensated until the property is eventually sold.

Option 3: You sell and both move out

While a hot property market can be problematic if one of you wants to stay in the family home, it can also be a godsend if you both decide to sell.

If you’ve purchased property longer than a few years ago you are likely to have built up considerable equity which means more money for each of you to move on with. It can also provide a cleaner emotional split as well because you both physically leave ‘ground zero’ of your old relationship behind.

It also means that the division of assets can be simpler and if you are able to rent or buy something less expensive, it may also prove financially rewarding.

How can amica help?

Whatever option suits you best, it will need to take into account the whole picture and be fair to both of you. In many situations, assets are added together and divided between you (including property, shares, savings, cars and superannuation).

amica’s online separation tool can do the maths for you and help you with this process. If you decide that you want to get court orders, and your situation is suitable for amica, you can generate the court application documents on amica. Check here to see if amica is right for you.

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