It is far from unusual for a married couple in Australia to jointly own a property. They may have gladly agreed to do so during the early days of the marriage, but unfortunately, they may no longer see eye to eye. If things have subsequently progressed to divorce, what will happen to the property?
There are several ways to buy a property under joint ownership, but by far, the most common is known as a "joint tenancy." This applies an equal share to both parties and can also apply to bank accounts and other owned assets.
There are some repercussions here when it comes to survivorship. If one party to the agreement were to die, their share would pass to the other surviving member, who will get full title to the property. In the event of a divorce, this may be problematic for one or both of the parties, as they may want their share of the property to pass to someone else entirely.
Dissolving the Agreement
Consequently, steps will need to be taken to dissolve the joint tenancy agreement, and this is usually achieved when one party buys out the other. This will require agreement from both parties, of course, in relation to the value and the necessary detail. Once agreed, the first party will sell the interest to the other and will get financial compensation in return. Usually, this is in the form of a lump sum payment, but not always. The procedure will vary across Australia, but the information will need to be lodged with the title registry in the relevant state to be effective.
If emotions are particularly high and your former partner controls a lot of the documentation related to the property, you can always protect your interests by placing a caveat on the official record. This will protect the property while proceedings continue.
The Bigger Picture
Property settlement is only one part of the bigger picture here, of course. Where at all possible, both parties should approach settlement with good intention and try to avoid any argument of dispute. However, this can often be difficult to achieve, and it's always a good idea for each party to bring in their own family lawyer at the outset.
If you jointly own a property with your former partner and want to make sure that your interests are handled as carefully as possible, reach out to a family law lawyer for more information.Share
27 October 2021
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