The division of property following the breakdown of a relationship may, at first glance, seem simple. However, the increasingly complex nature of client’s businesses, complex company and trust structures and tax consequences etc, increase the time and effort required to properly settle a partition of financial arrangements.

The law encourages parties to sensibly discuss and negotiate a division of property as a first point of call. It is however prudent to obtain preliminary legal advice to ensure you are aware of your rights and some of the ‘tricks and traps’ of family law.

The division of property can begin immediately following a separation. However time limits do apply – any court application for a property division must be filed within 12 months of divorce or within 2 years of the date of separation in respect of a de facto relationship.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no formula for the division of property. Rather, the law provides that a division is determined based on the discretion of a judge in the context of these factors:

  • Whether it is just and equitable (i.e. fair) to make an order for the division of property and/or altering the interests of the parties in the property of the relationship – i.e., whether to leave the property where it is.
  • The direct or indirect financial contributions made the parties towards the acquisition, conservation or improvement of property or assets – the contributions made by the people at the commencement of the relationship, during the course of the relationship and after separation.
  • The contributions (other than financial contributions) made directly by a party to the acquisition conservation or improvement of an asset.
  • The contributions made by the parties to the welfare of the family. This includes the role played by one or other partners as a homemaker and parent.
  • The effect of any proposed order on the earning capacity of either party.
  • A whole range of matters which consider the future needs of each party. Included here are issues such as the state of health of each party, the question of whether one or other party has an obligation to support a child of the marriage and the ability of each party to obtain or continue work.

The application of these principles to a case is where Phillips Family Law comes in. We take detailed instructions regarding the history of the relationship to ensure that the client is able to present their optimum case to the Court, or to their former partner in private discussions or mediation.

We also assist clients in determining the best possible method of division of assets (with the assistance of a financial planner and/or accountant if required) to ensure immediate and future tax advantages.

If clients reach an amicable settlement with their former partner, we work with them to draft the necessary documents to properly formalise the terms of their agreement (in aConsent Order and/or Financial Agreements to appropriately finalise the division, without the need for court appearances. In the event the parties are unable to reach agreement, we provide proactive and determined advocacy to maximise the client’s case before the Court.

Our firm is recognised as a leader in the field of high net value and complex property settlements, but without the fanfare that accompanies some larger firms. Discretion is one of our core values.

We regularly encounter recalcitrant and difficult former spouses. We maintain consistent and assertive advocacy for our client and will not permit our client to be the victim of bullying, however subtle or subliminal.

Types of work we do:

1. Rural Settlements

Our Managing Director, Tony Philips, has practiced in both Toowoomba and Brisbane since the early 1980’s. He has been instrumental in effecting a number of high profile rural property settlements throughout Queensland and New South Wales. Since relocating to Brisbane in 2004, Tony continues to deal with matrimonial settlements involving rural property. We have extensive expertise in dealing with family assets that include:

  • Beef cattle including feed lotting;
  • Pork production;
  • Sheep in both meat production and wool;
  • Grain and fodder crops both irrigated and dry-land farming;
  • Small crops including organic farming;
  • Cotton – both irrigated and dry-land;
  • Water allocation entitlements.

2. Divisions Involving Businesses

We have resolved property divisions covering a wide range of family businesses, including:

  • Accounting practices;
  • Butchering;
  • Car and truck dealerships;
  • Cold storage business;
  • Commercial fishing;
  • Electrical contracting businesses;
  • Electrical retailers;
  • Engineering & mining businesses;
  • Financial planning practices;
  • Hardware businesses;
  • Heavy machinery dealerships;
  • Hire businesses;
  • Insulation sales and installation;
  • Legal practices;
  • Manufacturing business;
  • Meat processing;
  • Medical practices;
  • Panel beating;
  • Retail businesses;
  • Seafood wholesaling;
  • Transport.

3. Complex Structures

Phillips Family Law has extensive experience dealing with multiple entity corporate structures and with the tracing and valuation of those structures. In conjunction with forensic accountants, we undertake a process of unravelling the structures to quantify and value the extent of the interests in companies, partnerships and trusts.

4. Unique and Novel Asset

We have also successfully assisted clients in recovering matrimonial assets that have been removed or hidden, including:

  • Boats and cruisers;
  • Cash;
  • Horses;
  • Cattle.