In our modern, highly diversified world, it is not uncommon for parties to a relationship to have lived in more than one country, or to have assets in both Australia and overseas. You might be an American immigrant with a 401K in the US, a Chinese permanent resident with assets in Singapore and mainland China, or an Australian ex-pat living in the United Kingdom with a holiday home in Australia.
Can property settlement be done in Australia?
The Australian Federal Circuit and Family Court may have jurisdiction over your property division, even if you do not live in Australia at the time of your separation. Similarly, if you live in Australia but your assets are in another country, the Court may still have jurisdiction over your property division.
How does the Court determine whether they have the power to make orders about your property division?
Unless the Australian Court decides that Australia is a “clearly inappropriate” jurisdiction to determine your property division, it has the power to do so. There are a number of factors which the Court will apply when deciding this, including:
- Of which country are you a citizen?
- In which country are you domiciled? Where is your partner and/or your children domiciled?
- Are there already other proceedings in Australia, or in the foreign country (for example, for divorce, parenting arrangements and/or spousal maintenance)?
- In which country did most of the relationship take place?
- Are Australian Family Court Orders recognised in the foreign country?
This is a non-exhaustive list, and each may be applied differently, depending on your specific circumstances.
Which country is better to deal with my property settlement?
Family Law across the world varies enormously. The property division considered appropriate in Australia may not be the same as the property division in America for example. Similarly, a property settlement or maintenance order obtained in a foreign country is not necessarily binding in an Australian Court. Again, it depends on the foreign country and the circumstances of your case.