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Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Everything You Need to Know

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 in Australia is crucial for regulating property interests between divorced spouses. It outlines principles for fair division of assets and liabilities by considering contributions, future needs, and other relevant factors. The court follows a four-step process to determine property division, taking into account pre-relationship and post-separation assets. Alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation are encouraged before litigation.

Key Points of Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975

  • Division of Property: Courts use Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 to ensure equitable distribution by considering financial and non-financial contributions, future needs, and various factors.
  • Four-Step Process: The court follows a structured process involving determining asset values, assessing contributions, evaluating future needs, and ensuring equitable division.
  • Pre-Relationship & Post-Separation Assets: Assets acquired before or after the relationship may be included in the property pool, with courts considering factors like nature, source of funds, and contributions.
  • Exceptions & Special Considerations: Certain assets like superannuation interests, inheritances, gifts, personal injury settlements may be treated differently based on specific rules and circumstances.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution: Before court proceedings, parties are encouraged to explore mediation and negotiation for cost-effective and amicable resolutions.

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is an important provision that regulates property interests between separating or divorced spouses in Australia. It outlines principles and considerations which a Family Court or Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) must take into account when making their determination as to how to divide assets and liabilities amongst themselves.

Section 79’s primary aim is to achieve a fair and equitable division of property between parties by taking into account each contributor’s contributions, both financial and non-financial, to its acquisition, preservation or improvement during their relationship. Note that Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 applies not only to married couples but also de facto relationships as defined in legislation.

An Overview of Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975

Section 79 authorizes courts to make orders concerning changes to property interests between spouses in marriage or de facto relationships, such as transference of existing interests or creation or modification of new ones, termination, or modification.

Under Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975, the court’s power is wide-ranging and flexible, permitting it to consider various factors and tailor orders accordingly. However, its overarching principle remains fairness; thus taking into account both parties’ contributions- both direct and indirect- towards acquiring and maintaining their property pool.

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Establishing the Property Pool via Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975

Before the court can divide property, they must first identify and value all assets and liabilities that form its property pool. This may include both tangible assets such as real estate, vehicles, investments as well as intangible ones like business interests, superannuation funds or potential future resources.

Courts take into account not only property owned at the time of proceedings but also any assets acquired or sold during their relationship, enabling a comprehensive analysis of both parties’ financial situations and an informed decision regarding division of property.

Contributions to the Property Pool via Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975

One of the primary considerations under Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 is each party’s contribution towards acquiring, conserving or improving their respective property pool – these contributions may be either financial or non-financial in nature.

Financial contributions refer to direct monetary contributions made during a relationship, such as income earned during it or inheritance or gifts received. Non-financial contributions refer to contributions made for the welfare of family life such as homemaking, childrearing and maintaining the household.

The court will carefully assess each party’s contributions – direct and indirect – to the property pool during their marriage or de facto relationship, but also consider any contributions they have made prior or subsequent to it.

Future Needs and Other Factors via Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975

Under Section 79, in addition to taking into account each party’s contributions when dividing property, courts must also take into account other considerations when making this determination. Among them:

Age and health considerations as well as income, property, and financial resources of each party in a relationship should all be carefully taken into account before entering a commitment of this nature. Care and responsibility of any children of the relationship need also be carefully addressed, while their respective capacities for engaging in gainful employment need also be carefully considered.
– Consideration must also be given to how any proposed property order might affect a creditor of either party recovering their debts.
– Other relevant factors, including length of relationship, necessity to protect children’s interests, financial or nonfinancial contributions made to family welfare by either party and any possible differences of opinion on issues such as child custody.

By taking into account these factors, the court strives to ensure that its property distribution reflects not only each party’s contributions but also meets future needs and circumstances.

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975  Four-Step Process

To determine how property should be divided under Section 79, courts follow an established four-step procedure:

Step 1: Determine and value all assets and liabilities comprising the property pool.
Step 2: Assess contributions made by each party – both financial and nonfinancial – towards its acquisition, preservation or improvement.
Step 3: Evaluate all relevant factors listed in Section 79(4), such as parties’ future needs, age, health and income-earning capacity.
Step 4: Based on this analysis and findings from prior steps, determine an equitable division of property that ensures both justice and fairness for both parties involved.

Note that courts have substantial latitude in how they apply this four-step process and may give various considerations equal weight depending on the specific circumstances of each case.

Interim and Final Orders

Under Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975, courts have the ability to issue both interim and final orders regarding the division of property. Interim orders provide temporary arrangements that address immediate needs or help prevent dissipation of assets during proceedings.

Final orders represent the court’s ultimate determination on how property should be divided amongst parties, and are binding and enforceable. They can include provisions regarding asset transfer/sale/interest termination/creation as well as financial adjustments as determined necessary by the court.

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Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution Before Engaging in Litigation

While Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 offers legal framework for property division through court proceedings, parties should first explore alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or negotiation before turning to litigation as the solution. We can help at Mediations Australia.

These alternate approaches often result in cost-effective and amicable resolutions, as they allow both parties to exercise greater control over the outcome and avoid lengthy legal battles which could otherwise ensue.

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is an important provision that regulates property interests between separating or divorced spouses in Australia. This provision empowers courts to order an equitable distribution of property, taking into account each party’s contribution both financial and nonfinancial, future needs, and any other relevant considerations.

Through applying a four-step process and considering various factors, the court strives to create an outcome which takes into account each case individually and meets both fairness, equity, and best interests of parties and any children involved. Their discretion under Section 79 allows for tailored, nuanced solutions which strike a balance between fairness, equity, and the best interests of both parties and children involved.

Court proceedings under Section 79 may be an intimidating and complex experience; alternative dispute resolution methods exist and should be utilized whenever possible to find more amicable and cost-effective resolutions to property disputes.

Overall, Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 represents a comprehensive legal framework for handling property division in relation to relationship breakdowns. It ensures both parties’ contributions and future needs are taken into account and that any orders resulting from it are fair and equitable.

What about assets obtained prior to or after the relationship?

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 also addresses how assets acquired prior to or post-relationship should be considered when dividing property between partners in a relationship or following separation should be treated during property division. Key considerations of pre-relationship assets:

1. Pre-Relationship Assets

Pre-relationship assets owned by either party prior to marriage or de facto cohabitation will typically form part of the overall property pool subject to division under Section 79; however, courts often recognize and attribute an important value to these pre-relationship contributions in their division process.

When dividing property, courts can consider several pre-relationship assets as factors in dividing it:

a. The nature and value of the asset at its acquisition.
B. Contributions made by either party during their relationship toward its acquisition, conservation or improvement.
c. The length and nature of your relationship, including how the asset has been utilized or enjoyed during it.

Pre-relationship assets typically form part of the property pool; however, courts may make adjustments or orders that ensure that those who brought such assets into the relationship keep an increased share when the relationship ends.

2. Post-Separation Assets

Under section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975, courts can also consider assets acquired post-separation by either party post-divorce that could potentially be included in their overall property pool and subject to division, depending on its specific circumstances.

The court will take into consideration factors like:

a. The nature and purpose of assets acquired post-separation;
b. The source of funds used to acquire them (for instance income earned post-separation or inheritance or proceeds from selling an existing asset).
c. Contributions made directly or indirectly by either party towards the acquisition or maintenance of an asset, either directly or indirectly.

d. Time between separation and the acquisition of such an asset.

Under certain conditions, courts can exclude post-separation assets from being divided among both parties following separation, particularly if they were acquired solely due to one party’s efforts and resources after divorce with no significant contribution from either side.

3.Exceptions and Special Considerations

There may be certain exceptions and special considerations related to assets acquired during pre-relationship and post-separation:

Superannuation Interests: Retirement interests (superannuation or pension plans) are treated differently under Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 and specific rules apply when dividing these assets among parties based on factors like their ages and contributions made to superannuation funds.

b. Inheritances and gifts: Courts may handle inheritances and substantial gifts received prior or during a relationship differently depending on factors like their timing, source and intended use.

Personal injury settlements: Compensation received for personal injuries may be excluded or partially excluded from the property pool depending on certain circumstances and at the discretion of the court.

Section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975 allows the court to consider pre-relationship and post-separation assets as part of an overall property pool; it will take into account each party’s specific circumstances and contributions when making this determination. Ultimately, their goal should be achieving a just and equitable result that takes into account both contributions made and future needs of both parties involved.

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