The information provided below is general in nature and should not be relied upon legal advice. You should call 03 5445 1000 and speak to a lawyer at OFRM about your particular circumstances.

Do I need an official property settlement for my separation?

Despite what the media and movies would suggest, most separating couples are able to work out dividing their assets. Sometimes they do this on their own, more often it is after having received some independent legal advice of what would be an appropriate settlement.

Having reached agreement, the common question then is do I need to go the extra step and make that agreement formal.

There are two ways you can formalise your agreement — either through making an application to the court for orders to be made by consent or by entering into a binding financial agreement.

Both ways have their own advantages and disadvantages, what is best will depend on your individual circumstances.

However, when things seem amicable the time, effort and expense of formalising an agreement might seem like a bother. But unless you have a very accurate crystal ball, you need the insurance that a formal settlement provides.

What could go wrong?

Dramatic changes in circumstances, new motivation provided by a new partner on the scene, things changing over time, these are all things that I have seen lead to people not "sticking to their word" of an informal settlement.

Without a formal settlement, if the other side changes their mind they could apply to a court for a property settlement. Even if such an application doesn't change things too much, you still want to avoid going there.

In rare circumstances the cost of a formal settlement is disproportionate to the risk of what could happen, but whether you should formalise your agreement is certainly something you need to discuss with us.