Property Settlements

Our property settlement lawyers provide legal advice, care and guidance to people experiencing relationship breakdown, to successfully navigate their financial settlement.

We do this both outside the Court, through process including negotiation, mediation and collaboration and by litigation, where necessary.

Property Settlements

Financial Separation

Our firm is recognised as a leader in complex property settlements, having been instrumental in effecting a number of high profile rural property settlements and settlements for a wide range of family business and multiple entities and corporate structures. We do so without the fanfare that accompanies some larger firms. Discretion is one of our core values.

Because we deal frequently with complex property settlements, our team is well apprised at advising in matters involving corporate interests, trusts or assets situated both in Australia and overseas. We bring these skills to all that we are privileged to assist, regardless of the complexity or size of the asset pool involved.

Property Settlements

Financial Separation Advice

Critical to every property settlement is getting the right advice so you can make informed decisions. The law encourages parties to sensibly discuss and negotiate a division of property, wherever possible. This means understanding both what a Court would do and what is best for you and your family – in keeping with your goals.

Integral to achieving the best outcomes for you may involve, if required, working with our other professionals including valuers, accountants, financial planners, commercial lawyers and barristers, if required to assist you to finalise your property settlement by the best possible method to ensure immediate and future tax advantages.

As we regularly encounter recalcitrant and difficult former spouses, we maintain consistent and assertive advocacy for those we assist.

Where an amicable settlement is reached, we work with our clients to draft the necessary documents to properly formalise the terms of their agreement (in a Consent Order and/or Financial Agreements to appropriately finalise the division, without the need for court appearances.

Where parties are unable to reach agreement, our property settlement lawyers provide proactive and determined advocacy to maximise your case at arbitration or before the Court.

Property Settlements


Our property settlement lawyers have extensive experience with property divisions including those that involve:

Property Settlements

Divisions Involving Business

Our property settlement lawyers 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;
  • Information Technology;
  • Insulation sales and installation;
  • Legal practices;
  • Manufacturing business;
  • Meat processing;
  • Medical practices;
  • Panel beating;
  • Retail businesses;
  • Seafood wholesaling;
  • Transport.
Property Settlements

Complex Structures

Our property settlement lawyers have 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.

Property Settlements

Rural Settlements

Our Managing Director, Tony Phillips, 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 Australia. Since relocating to Brisbane in 2004, Tony, along with our team, 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 & fodder crops both irrigated & dry-land farming;
  • Small crops including organic farming;
  • Cotton – both irrigated and dry-land;
  • Water allocation entitlements.
Property Settlements

Unique and Novel Assets

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

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

Common Questions about Property Settlements

Here are some of the more commonly asked questions that relate to property settlements generally as well as separation and divorce with a business, trust structures and other complex property matters. Click the arrow to reveal our team’s insights.

If you opt to move out of a property, it may be difficult to get access to the property again. If you only take your personal belongings with you when you leave, then it can be very difficult to get furniture and other household items you need to set yourself up in other accommodation.

So while moving out does not affect your rights to the property in terms of the settlement, on a practical level it can be difficult to get back into the property.

Where there are issues with domestic and family violence, your personal safety should be a priority in which case leaving is likely to be the best course of action.

It is possible for a couple to be separated but to continue living in the same home during the twelve months, which is known as ‘separation under the one roof’. If a couple is separated under the one roof, they will need to prove to the Court that they were actually separated during this time.

Read more about moving out of the family home and common mistakes people make when separating.

As family lawyers, one of the first pieces of advice we provide to our clients, if they are considering separation from their spouse or partner, or have already taken the leap, is to change access and specific passwords. 

It is common these days for couples to be sharing accounts and passwords, and, even if the separation is thought to be amicable, it is always advisable that passwords are changed in order to avoid potential reviewing of confidential data.

  • Your computer access password or PIN
  • Phone and tablet PINs
  • Your online banking login details
  • Email account passwords
  • We have written an in-depth guide that covers all of the access and security considerations that anyone separating should read. You can find it here.

When you do this, ensure you don’t change the password to a simple or duplicate password or anything else you’ve used previously.  Remember that even the most amicable of separations can and do turn sour, so doing this early on protects you for the longer term.

Read more about how to protect vulnerable information

Regardless of whether one or both of you have business interests and regardless of whether one or both of you are involved in the same business, you will need to disclose all financial information as part of the property division process. 

A valuation of any business interests is required and business interests will be considered when calculating the overall asset pool.

This means that potentially a business may be up for division. There may be ways around it though.

Read more about separation, divorce & business ownership

While some people might wonder ‘Why would someone want to start this process so soon? Isn’t that ‘too quick’ or insensitive?’

It’s important to remember that the decisions that you and your former partner make and put in place informally now may be detrimental to you, those you care for, as well as the impact on businesses, in the short and longer term.

Even people with the very best of intentions for each other can have the whole experience evolve differently to what they intended, through no intentional fault of either party. What you don’t want to occur can become reality as we have seen for so many people who have waited too long to seek professional advice, or done so far too late in the piece.

Rather than looking at it as insensitive or ‘too quick’, look at seeking professional advice about information gathering to allow you to make better decisions. You may not immediately act on the advice or tell your former partner but it will assist you to make decisions.

Read more about financial risks when delaying a property settlement

Read about considerations in times of economic uncertainty

Figuring out who gets what in a divorce settlement is rarely as black and white as splitting everything down the middle. Being informed about the process and objectives of a property settlement can help manage expectations from the start and minimise disputes and uncertainties.

Unlike a divorce application, property settlements can commence (and be finalised) at any point after separation. Delaying a settlement until after your Divorce Order application will not only cost you time, but may throw additional curveballs into negotiations (for example, one spouse may have received an inheritance during the separation period).

Read more about the property settlement process

Read more about property settlement entitlements

Learn about international property settlements here

Typically there are a number of Do’s and Don’ts when financially separating. One ‘Do’ is, before making decisions about how your finances and assets will be managed, getting advice from an accountant. This is important, particularly if you or your former partner have interests in trusts and companies.

Often people make decisions that may trigger tax implications that are only realised later on. This may mean they have to go back to renegotiate which often creates tension and disputes. Seeking tax advice, financial planning and estate planning advice, in conjunction with the advice of a specialist family lawyer, is an incredibly beneficial place to start, before you commence any negotiations about who gets what.

Read more about the do’s & don’ts of financial separation

A retirement plan is typically set up to provide sufficient income for two in the fashion in which they have become accustomed to – but it’s not enough to sustain them if they are separated and running two households. When separating or divorcing, suddenly both people often have to considerably cut their costs.

So many times people come to us having already made decisions that they are unaware are in fact, to their detriment. Often that includes leaving the family home because they feel it’s the right thing to do or, the thought of staying in the matrimonial home feels too distressing.

For some, they seek advice looking to determine if a separation is financially feasible for them. That is, to determine if they can both live the lifestyle they had before, but separately. For others, it’s about getting advice really early in the piece so they can get a picture of what their future life will look like.

Read more about separation and divorce in retirement

Before you start the process, it is incredibly important that you understand yourself and what you need from your lawyer.

Consider whether you are a detail-oriented person. Are you going to want to know all the mechanics, the plan, and the steps involved in executing the plan? Or, are you a “big picture” person and engaging your lawyer to fix the problem for you, and don’t need to know all the steps involved in how your lawyer will go about executing it?

Ideally, the relationship between you and your lawyer should be a short-lived one, because your matter is resolved amicably, quickly, and cost-effectively. However, you should bear in mind that there is always a chance you could end up in a three-year relationship with your family lawyer. Which, in some cases, could be longer than the relationship with your ex-partner. It is important that you feel comfortable with your family lawyer and that they understand your goals and needs. This will set you up for success when navigating your separation together.

Read more about how to choose a family lawyer

Property Settlements

Property Settlement Lawyers Brisbane

Unlike divorce, the property settlement process can commence immediately from the date of separation. To seek advice specific to your circumstances, reach out to our team.

Our property settlement lawyers assist clients in Brisbane and across all states and territories of Australia. We regularly assist interstate clients as well as international clients who are seeking to apply for divorce in Australia and may have assets overseas.

We meet with our clients in person at our Brisbane office, via phone or online.

Phillips Family Law

Award Winning Complex & High Value Property

Phillips Family Law is proud to be recognised as a Leading Queensland and Australian Law Firm by the industry and our peers.

The depth of our team is demonstrated by our listing as First Tier Queensland Family Law Firm, and as a Leading Australian Family Law Firm each year since 2015.

Pre and Post Separation Property Settlement Advice

Our highly experienced team has helped thousands of people with complex property settlement matters.