Consultation with a specialist lawyer

Determine your next best steps forwards with a free 15 minute consultation with the best family lawyer specific to your situation.


Clear communication

Confusing legal documents, processes and jargon is frustrating. We make sure you understand your legal rights and feel confident with a clear strategy.


Achieve a better outcome

50 Years of expertise, combined with a deep understanding on all family and divorce matters, helps you secure the best possible outcome.


Minimise time spent in court

We’re focused on timely solutions to help you negotiate, mediate and settle family law issues before going to court.


Doyles 2022 Paterson Dowding Preeminent Parenting Law Doyles 2022 Paterson Dowding Leading Family Law Doyles 2022 Paterson Dowding Recommended Mediator


Many factors determine whether you are entitled to a property settlement, and if so, how much.

Step 1: Firstly, there are time limits (“limitation periods”) within which you must make an application.

  • For married couples – you must commence proceedings for property settlement and/or spousal maintenance in the Family Court of Western Australia within 12 months from the date your divorce order takes effect.
  • For de facto couples – you must commence proceedings for property settlement and/or partner maintenance within 2 years from the date of separation .
  • This does not mean that you must reach settlement within these time frames. You must simply start the court proceedings.
  • You can apply outside these limitation periods in certain circumstances.

Step 2: Before you file court proceedings, you must comply with the pre-action procedures. This involves trying to negotiate a settlement with the other party without the need to go to court. You must give notice of your claim and invite the other party to negotiate or attend alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration.

Step 3: Apply for a Binding Financial Agreement Alternatively, you can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement (“BFA”) to record your property settlement. This agreement does not need to be registered at the Family Court.

Speak to an experienced Property Settlement Lawyer at Paterson & Dowding about how we can assist you to negotiate an agreement or start legal proceedings.

The Family Court must follow certain steps when assessing your property settlement.

  1. Identify your existing property interests as part of the process of deciding whether it is just and equitable to make an order.
    In most cases the Court will need to make an order because the fact of your separation means it is no longer practical for you to own property jointly or have an ongoing financial relationship. If so, the Court will –
  2. Look into the past and consider each of your financial and non-financial contributions to your property, plus any contributions as homemaker and parent, and make a preliminary percentage division based on those contributions;
  3. Look into the future and assess both of your ongoing needs and other factors and decide whether it should make an adjustment to the percentage split made in the previous step;
  4. Make orders that are “just and equitable” in all the circumstances.

You may be surprised to learn that nowhere in the legislation is there any mention whatsoever of percentages or percentage splits. The Court uses percentages simply as a guide to help it decide what is just and equitable. In this regard, the Court must exercise its discretion to determine what orders, if any, it considers appropriate to make in your particular case.

Speak to an experienced family lawyer about the above process to find out about your entitlements.

If the other party does not want to co-operate, briefing a lawyer can help your dispute to progress.

Even relatively simple property settlements can involve taxation issues and other traps that you should know about before entering into a settlement.

Speaking to a Property Settlement Lawyer at Paterson & Dowding can help you reach an agreement with your former partner and avoid unnecessary delay, court proceedings and costly legal fees.

Our lawyers can assist you with:

  • Practical legal advice regarding the division of assets, liabilities and superannuation
  • Preparing and drafting Binding Financial Agreements & Family Court Consent Orders
  • Mediation and arbitration
  • Representing you in court



Property settlement cases can get messy and expensive, but they can be straightforward and less stressful with the right legal advice and strategy.

Book your free 15 minute consultation with our specialist family lawyer to discuss your current situation and find out your next best steps.


Book a Free Consultation

To request a free consultation, simply fill out the form with your details and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours (Mon - Fri).


Follow-up Call

Dedicated to providing the best client experience possible, our friendly staff will assist, guide and match you with the right lawyer suited to your situation.


Consultation With Specialist Lawyer

This is the right time to ask all of your questions and let our family lawyer know about any concerns you may have. We will then be able to provide you with tailored legal advice and help you determine your next steps.

Our mission is to help you navigate through divorce and resolve family law matters efficiently, so you can move on with your life.

“I would like to commend the professionalism, empathy and kindness shown to me and my sister during my property settlement.”


“Thank you so much for all the work you have put into my case over the last two years, I was very happy with the outcome of the property settlement and I am glad I chose you and Paterson and Dowding to represent me.”



The general rule in family law cases is that each party pays their own legal costs.

However, the Family Court can depart from this general rule in certain circumstances and make an order for one party to pay the legal costs of the other.

Firstly, occupation of the home generally has no bearing upon the question who should ultimately retain the property as part of any final property settlement. The Family Court determines that question based on a whole range of different factors.

Secondly, there is no specific answer as to whether you should move out of the home after separation. It depends entirely upon your personal circumstances.

The Family Court may grant an order for exclusive occupation of the home depending upon the answers to many questions, such as –

  • Can you afford to live elsewhere?
  • Can the other party better afford to live elsewhere?
  • Is it less convenient for you or the other party to move out? For example, do you live near your work, or do you run a business from home?
  • Do you have children and if so, what are their interests? Do they attend school nearby? Do they have neighbourhood friends? Will moving house disrupt their studies or extra-curricular activities? Do grandparents live nearby who can provide you with family support?
  • Is there a chance you will be able to take the home as part of a final property settlement? If yes, you can argue it makes sense to stay in the home to save the cost and disruption of moving.

You can apply for exclusive occupation even if you are not the legal owner of the property.

The Family Court must identify and take into account all property owned or controlled by both spouses, whether it was acquired before, during or after your relationship or marriage.

However, if you contribute property that you owned beforehand, the Court may take into account your contribution when assessing “who should take what” after separation.

There are however, many factors that affect how the Court assesses your initial financial contributions, such as the length of your relationship; whether the original property still exists and whether the other party made any financial or non-financial contributions towards the property during your relationship or marriage.

For example, if your relationship was short; the other party made no contributions to your property and it still exists, the Court may either place a lot of weight on the value of your initial contribution, or it may “quarantine” the property altogether so it is not available for division.

The Family Court must identify and take into account all property owned or controlled by both spouses, whether it was acquired before, during or after your relationship or marriage. This includes income earned and saved after separation.

It is possible that you earned income after separation without any contribution or help from the other party. However, it may be possible for the other party to argue that he/she made direct or indirect contributions to your earning capacity because he/she gave up his/her career to care for your children and maintain the home, etc, which enabled you to develop your career or business.

The Court may take into account all of these and other factors when deciding how to treat income and savings earned after separation. It can be beneficial to obtain early legal advice in relation to this issue.

It depends. Merely dating or having a relationship with a new person will generally not affect your property settlement with your previous spouse.

However, if you begin to live with your new partner, your ex-spouse is entitled to know the financial circumstances of your cohabitation. This can and usually does add layers of complexity to your family law dispute where none previously existed.


Free 15 Minute Consultation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


  • Consult with a specialist lawyer
  • Clear Communication
  • Achieve a better outcome
  • Minimise time spent in court