DIY relationship property - what you need to know
Relationship Property DIY – It can be costly!
As they say at Mitre 10: “DIY…it’s in our DNA!”
But, when it comes to dividing relationship property following separation, DIY can be a costly mistake.
The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 sets out the law relating to the division of property in the event of separation. It lays out the general expectation of equal sharing between couples. The Act also provides that couples can make their own rules relating to the division of property with strict requirements as to how that must be documented. If the agreement does not comply with those requirements, it will almost certainly be void.
For a settlement agreement to be binding it must be in writing and signed by each party. Prior to signing each party must have independent legal advice. Each party’s lawyer must witness their client’s signature and provide certification that they have explained the effect and implications of the agreement.
Whilst private negotiation is a good idea where possible and will keep costs down, it is crucial that you obtain advice on the resulting agreement and have it properly documented and certified in a way that meets the requirements of the Act. Without this, you run the risk of your ex-partner coming back and “trying again” – sometimes many years later.
Sadly, we often deal with people who are surprised by a claim seemingly “out of blue” by an ex-partner – sometimes many years later. Whilst the Act does set out time limitations for the filing of proceedings, it also provides a discretion to the Court to grant extensions (even after the deadline has expired).
These surprise claims can be stressful and very costly – even in situations where the Court confirms the original agreement. Getting it right the first time by properly documenting your agreed division is less expensive and provides you with far greater certainty.
So, by all means, negotiate with your ex, but then talk to your straight talking lawyer at Arnet Law to make sure that agreement sticks