Are you entitled to a share of property at the end of a short relationship?

The answer to that question depends on your individual circumstances.

To be entitled to a property settlement in a de facto relationship, the relationship must last for at least 2 years, unless you have a child together. For a married couple there is no minimum time period, but the shorter the relationship the more each parties contributions will be influential in the outcome and entitlements and less weight will attach to future needs.

The law relating to dividing property in short relationships is the same as it is in long relationships in terms of  looking at the financial and non financial, direct and indirect contributions to the acquisition, conservation and improvement of property made by both parties both at the commencement and during the relationship.

In a longer relationship a Court will be more interested in evaluating and potentially making adjustments for future factors such as the age of the parties, their health, their earning capacity and their resources, than in a short relationship where these factors carry far less weight.

The Court can however take into account in both a long and short relationship, the impact of having caring responsibility for a child, particularly a young child or a child with special needs.

Even if a party entered a relationship with nominal assets compared to the other party, and made little financial contribution during the relationship, if there is a child who remains in their primary care, they will be given an adjustment of property to recognize that their future is impacted by the fact of the child having come into their life.

A 2016 case of Rose and Mitchell is an example of the manner in which the Court can adjust property. In this case the relationship lasted only 3 years but produced one child. The wife was the primary parent during the relationship. The husband entered the relationship with a freehold house. The Court determined that the contributions of the parties was 90% to the husband but when looking at the future needs of the parties, the Court recognized the wife had greater future needs due to her ongoing primary care of the child and as such adjusted property overall as to 25% to her.

Property division is complex and varied. Every case is different, just as every family is different.

It is imperative to obtain specific legal advice as to your individual circumstances, from an experienced family lawyer. Call Clark Panagakos Family Law today to book an appointment with one of our experienced practitioners.