FAMILY LAW

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					Vol. 3 – April 2003




                                              FAMILY LAW
     DIVISION OF MATRIMONIAL PROPERTY IN AUSTRALIA
     Assets wealth of a large minority of couples is insufficient to meet immediate & long term
     financial needs of both parties and children:
         o
            46% of males and females – assets owned at separation are primarily ‘basic’ eg
            family home, car, savings, loans & superannuation (usually the husband’s)
         o
            Most valuable asset is usually the family home, followed by super. Few couple have
            ready cash available
         o
            Estimated median value of net asset wealth excluding super is $124 101 plus
            females super $5590 and males super $22 361

     Division of property:
        o   79% of cases NOT 40:60 division
        o   Wife gets on average 2/3 of basic assets and 1/5 of non-basic asset wealth
        o
            ‘low asset’ marriages – wife more likely to receive majority share, less variation in
            outcomes than ‘high asset’ marriages
        o
            Wife’s share decreases and husband’s share increases where non-basic assets
            (investments, business, farms), comprise a high proportion of the couple’s asset
            wealth
        o   Both the husband and wife’s share increases if they are the residential parent
        o   Shared to husband increases if he remains in the family home post-separation
        o   If the division was 50:50, then little real loss for females in low asset marriages, but
            major gain from high asset marriages


     STATISTICAL SNAPSHOT OF FAMILY LAW 2000-2001
     Orders sought 1999-2000 – contact 23%, residence 18%, specific issues 17%, other 13%,
     property 10%, injunctions 7%, costs 6%, discharge orders 3%, maintenance 1%

     Appeals issues – property 26.9%, contact 24.2%, residence 19.6%

     Case conferences – from Feb 2001 held at Family Court of Australia, convened by Deputy
     Registrar for financial disputes, or a counsellor for disputes involving children, or both. In
     Feb-June 2001, 1732 conferences held, with 33% having all issues resolved before
     directions hearing.
     Conciliation conferences for contested property matters – 40.6% resolution rate

     SOURCES
     Division of Matrimonial Property in Australia, Grania Sheehan & Judy Hughes, Australian Institute of Family
     Studies, Research Paper Number 25, March 2001
     Statistical Snapshot of Family Law 2000-2001, Family Law Council, June 2002