Separated couples who attempt to divide their property between themselves without the necessary legal advice are failing to create valid agreements.

A good example is a Family Court case where the husband applied to the Court to divide the couple’s property 20 years after he left the relationship.  The husband had left the relationship and family home by leaving a note that included the words, “I’ve taken the car and some clothes.  The rest is all yours”.  The wife retained all the assets and the care of the parties’ four children.

The husband and wife then had no contact for 20 years until the husband made contact seeking his share of the Family Home.

The Court in this case held that despite the note and the length of time that had passed, there was no valid agreement as to the division of the couple’s property.  The husband was therefore entitled to a share in the family home.

In order to ensure your agreement as to the division of property is valid, it must meet the following requirements:

  1. It must be in writing and signed by both parties.
  2. Each party to the Agreement must have independent legal advice before signing the Agreement.
  3. The signature of each party to the Agreement must be witnessed by a lawyer.
  4. The lawyer who witnesses the signature of a party must certify that, before that party signs the Agreement, the lawyer explained to that party the effect and implications of the Agreement.

The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that both parties know what they are gaining and/or losing by agreeing to a settlement that divides their property.

If you would like further information on any separation, financial support or divorce matter contact us on 04 473 6850.