Can She Take Half of My Assets?

  • I have been with my girlfriend for 2 years and we are both in out late twenties.
  • She does not currently have any savings or assets as she is a poor student but she contributes financially where she can and is actively looking for work.
  • We currently live together and pay rent
  • I am currently working full time and own my house(which is solely in my name) which is currently being tenanted out, but we would like to move into it together within the next 6 months
  • There is a small mortgage on the house but majority of it has been paid off by myself - through scrimping, saving and hard work
  • We do plan on getting married and having children eventually down the track
  • She is a beautiful humble woman and not some gold digging money lover

What are the implications if we were to break up our relationship or things didn't work out down the track?

Can she potentially take half of the house even if we aren't married?

The reason I ask is because I have worked hard for everything and although I trust her and love her, I've heard horror stories of guys losing the lot because of bad relationships and poor financial/legal advice. Even as per the last point, people can change over time and I don't want to get screwed over. I wouldn't bother asking but she is not bringing anything to the table, financially speaking, so I guess I need some re-assurance.

Comments

  • Seems an insane idea to me that living with someone for 2 years gives you a legal right to half of the assets they had before you started living with them. Nice work if you can get it though.

    20 years I could live with.

  • +2 votes

    I think it's living together for at least 1 year, that counts the relationship as being defacto. Not the fact that you've been together for X amount of time.

    That's a tough one. I know how OP feels. While a prenup is the pragmatic method, I can't comment without delving into your relationship. If you say she's down to earth, no gold digging girl, no bad influence on the sides; then technically you should be safe. But then again, how is it going to be in 30 years down the track?

    On another note, while she does not contribute financially, does she support you in your career and endeavours? Is she your rock to move forward in life? If she is, then you can argue, without her, you wouldn't be progressing in life; that in itself is intangible in value.

    • Yes, she is very supportive towards me and has helped me achieve my dreams and goals. She's a good person and has pure intentions. I can't put a price on that.

      We fight over stupid little things all the time but just as quickly apologise to each other; that's part of a healthy robust relationship right?

      I feel a bit dirty creating the OP but this has been something in the back of my mind for some time, especially with a move into my house accelerating forward, and something I need to consider and reflect upon before making a decision.

      • +4 votes

        The " what about 30 years" comment is moot tbh. You will not be the same person 30 years later. If you are then damn, you haven't been living and learning from your mistakes!

        But with relationships, it's a journey between two people (oh the cliche). You're supposed to grow together, remember what brought you together, and fight together for a future.

        Fights are common. If you're not fighting, then that's actually worrying. In saying that, 'how' you fight is probably a more pertinent question. Communicating the issue and finding ways to solve the problem. It's not my way or the highway, it's not controlling, it's a two way Street.

        Also remember, there will be rough patches, but your relationship will only fail if you give up working on it. Its especially true when you feel the problem is too 'hard' to fix. As long as the two of you keep fighting for each other (and you feel that she will and YOU will too). Then that's great.

        I suppose it's just like this post. It's a complex problem that you've obviously procrastinate on. Now that things are moving along you're 'freaking out'. Don't. Procrastinate. Don't sweep things under the rug to 'keep the peace'. Fix the problem, get the solution.

        It may be that you talk to her about your concern (seriously, this is not a joke advice). Tell her what your thoughts are (scared of losing her), and how you it happened to your parents(maybe?)/friends (divorces and kids being dragged through mud, lawyers and dividing up assets stresses). And see what her response is. From the sound of her description, she will be understanding and she will do anything to make sure you don't feel stressed out. If you both want to move in together this is a serious discussion and there is no time for jokes.

        Good luck OP

        • TYVM. Now might be the time to have a serious level-headed discussion with her about such matters for both of our future sake.

  • Would she still stay with you if she knew you put this post up here?

  • OP…..I don't think its being paranoid at all.

    There is a real chance that relationships break up and where you are the vastly wealthier party, you stand to lose the most.

    Most relationships start out with great intentions, but through passage of time, things change, thinking and perspective changes as well.

    The correct answer here is to seek legal advice if you are concerned.

    Overall, I feel the law is wrong. My rule would be no one should profit from a relationship, you leave with what you bring in (man or woman).

    • +4 votes

      That's a really simple view to take. A couple marry - the man works hard, becomes a high earner. The woman raises the children. After 30 years he ditches her for new wife - his future secure. She on the other hand has worked hard for 30 years but has no money and her future prospects are grim: little chance of earning much money, little chance of future marriage. Surely she should get more than the money she walked into the relationship with? Or do you really value her contribution so little?

      • You're talking about earnings during the relationship. @tsunamisurfer only referred to assets held prior to the relationship.

        In my opinion, prior assets should return to the prior holder and subsequent assets should be divided in proportion to the quantified contributions of each individual in the event of a separation.

        •  

          I think you have a good case for prior assets, especially if the relationship lasts a short time. I was talking about the "no one should profit from a relationship" bit. I think "quantified contributions" is a bit weaselly. Unquantified contributions are just as real, and shouldn't be ignored - they are just hard to measure. And as I said above, likelihood of future prosperity needs to be accounted for too. In a real sense, the person looking after the children is making an investment in the future of their relationship. If the relationship is cut short, that needs to be addressed.

        • @mowersfourpeter:

          Quantified means that a dollar value is assigned, it doesn't mean financial.

          So domestic duties and child-care for example should all be quantified.

  • Completely understand OP's worries here, my mother is currently experiencing this issue. Granted, her relationship with her partner has gone on for several years instead of 2… but with a one-sided drain of a relationship like hers, that just compounds the negatives rather than outweighs them. If / when I'm in OP's position, I will not hesitate a single second to protect my existing assets.

  • I don't have a girlfriend, it's too risky nowadays.
    I am not a betting man, but I can tell you those are bad odds.

    • I've been single for the better part of most of my twenties or had superficial relationships. Now I finally found the right person so it's time to move forward in my life. Part of that moving forward involves taking risks. I can understand your cautious hesitation though. If I lost her over money I don't think I would ever forgive myself.

  • Let me hear what Ozbargain lawyers say….

  • +2 votes

    I spoke to a lawyer recommended by a company lawyer I know about a pre-nup in a different scenario, missus is far more asset rich than I am and I wanted something in place to put her and her folks' (source of assets) minds at ease.

    Gist of the conversation however was drawing it up was one thing, but getting it to stand up to a legal challenge is a very different thing and apparently a lot of lawyers don't like touching these from a liability and indemnity perspective in case the pre nup doesn't hold up.

    At the end of the day we decided it was better just to maintain separate finances and contribute equally to our shared property and living expenses (obviously within reason we don't go and split every little thing but big things like the mortgage and rates), and I have no intention of going to court if things go pear shaped as I don't care about her or her parent's money.

    • Just having separate finances / bill splitting won't hold up if you decide to get nasty and chase the assets.

      The test seems to be whether you are in a relationship, I forgot what its called, especially if you are co-habitating , doesn't matter that each of you have your own Ozbargain accounts and never mix your Eneloops.

      Not saying you or anyone has future bad intentions but everyone starts out saying I don't want your stuff.

  • Transfer property to parents. Then create a contract with them with a condition giving u a call option to buy the property back for $10 . if you guys get married, exercise the option to buy back the house.

    • Transfer property to parents.

      this may trigger a cgt event, and land duty if the property is in nsw.

      Then create a contract with them with a condition giving u a call option to buy the property back for $10 . if you guys get married, exercise the option to buy back the house.

      here is another cgt event and more land duty.

    • This creates two CGT events, if your going to do this put it in a trust and leave it there. You will still incur CGT on the initial transfer into the trust.

    • I think your on the right track, but I'd use a family trust. CGT on primary residence should be be exempt.

    • Transfer property to parents.

      Risky,

      if your parents get divorced, your mum takes your house!

      • @CleverCounter

        CGT on primary residence should be be exempt

        Depends if it every was his PPOR (currently it's rented).

        @Scrooge McDuck

        your mum takes your house!

        haha oh the irony

  • I went through this process earlier this year, hence I will prefix this message by suggesting you do what I did. Pay the money and go see a good family lawyer.

    By good I mean someone who can explain the law and give you advice on what is right for you, not someone who palms you off to a junior who is only focused on completing the BFA or prenup as a paperwork form.

    The following is not legal advice, just stuff I picked up when I went through the process, I also have a bad memory so this may not be 100% correct.

    1. Automatic 50/50 split is something from TV shows, if a relationship ends asset division is based on firstly a negotiation between the two parties and if that breaks down a judge can arbitrate. If you can prove that you brought an asset into the relationship and you are solely responsible for the purchase and costs associated with that property it will remain yours. However once you mix your finances, buy property together, etc. Then your partner can claim that she has contributed to the asset and can stake a claim, the longer this has been going on, the stronger argument they may have. It may not be a 50% stake but it might be a proportion. The cleaner you can keep your finances, the more likely you can keep your stake 100%. If you have a property 100% paid off before merging finances then it should be hard for your partner to stake a claim, even on the equity as they have not contributed to the asset.

    Initially my wife and I had separate accounts which we were paid into and a joint account for household expenses. We paid all of our property costs out of our own accounts then contributed equally to the joint account so that might be an idea.

    1. As time goes on finances merge, you will probably buy property together to increase your borrowing capacity and put all of your earnings into a single account. One partner may stay at home to look after the house/kids which will is factored into their contribution to the relationship. Hence as time goes on the ability to clearly define whose is whose becomes very difficult, hence usually by 10 years together in arbitration most rulings will go 50/50.

    2. When a kid comes along you can throw your prenup in the bin. It means very little. The child's welfare comes first, hence ensuring the primary caregiver had a roof over their head to support the child and the finances to do so come first. Even if you had a prenup, it is for this reason we decided that a prenup was irrelevant for us given that in the early stages of our relationship we could prove who owned what and when kids came along the prenup was meaningless anyway

    Regardless, seek legal advice. Also note that if you want to proceed with a prenup both you and your partner will need your own lawyer and independent legal advice.

    Hope this helps, I wasn't going to reply but after seeing some of the terrible responses in this post I thought it was worth providing some background from someone who has looked at this in detail.

    Also note that the name on the property title means nothing when it comes to dividing assets during a break up.

    • OP. Listen to this guy. And also many other posts regarding equitable resolution of assets.

      If you get a good specialised lawyer, not just the cheapest or most heavily advertised law firm, then they will work on all the proper avenues to make sure you keep what you deserve, and also make you realise what your partner is entitled to and/or likely to obtain assuming X circumstance and where you should draw the line and cut any losses. Poor choice of lawyer will cost you immense time and therefore money.

      Of course, this is all just for information only … your relationship is going all fine and dandy, isn't it? Good, then nothing to worry about.

      • This is not even a remote possibility for me right now. If things got so dire that I needed to see a divorce lawyer then I would consider the above info. I wouldn't want to tempt fate by asking too many what if questions.

        It's good to know that a sensible approach is taken with regards to apportioning assets between parties and all of the unique variables and contributing factors are taken into account. No two relationships are the same it seems.

        • That's correct. The Law is grey and it's up to you to find the right legal representation to apply it the best way possible according to your circumstances.

          Anyway, good luck. Life is full of risks. You don't make gains without taking them.

    • Worked in family law, no longer working in family law anymore - a lot of advice and information thrown around in thread is wrong - this post here is probably the most accurate. Would recommend seeing an accredited specialist in family law to get proper advice.

  • i understand you OP, totally.
    I'm in the same boat, ive worked so hard and bought a house recently and been worried ever since to be taken away but the crazy law etc.
    i really wished there was a plan B in-case things go wrong :( just to have a peace in mind and not afraid of loosing someone along with your house ahah

  • Google 'no fault divorce' there are many horror story.

    Friends of wife proudly mention she got house, car, super, etc. Hope they don't poison her.

    This is the only law where someone can 'benefit' by breaking a contract (e.g. marriage). Legally someone can cheat, live and (profanity) with new boyfriend, and get half of your assets.

    And yes - it works both ways. But in so many cases the men are primary breadwinners.

  • Firstly, you're asking on the wrong forum.

    Secondly, the answer is no. Generally, she will not be able to take half of your assets (at least the house) assuming that you have contributed 100% to it. Generally speaking, she may be entitled to a proportion of the house where she has contributed to household living (eg if she has paid bills, food, etc.). Though this position can change when you get married.

    The law is generally not THAT unreasonable as stated in other comments. If you wanted some sort of security, seek financial/legal advice. That way, if anything happens where you have suffered loss and they have provided dodgy advice, they'll be liable for professional negligence.

    Source: Law degree - property + equity law courses.

    • Being involved in the law, you should also know.

      1. Nothing is "guaranteed" otherwise we wouldn't have courts, where one lawyer fights for one interpretation where another does the opposite.

      2. Judges interprete things differently, and each judge is different, hence the term "Judge shopping". Knowing the history of how they view life.

      3. Lawyers cost money, so as I have always told friends who split. Aim for 40% of the value of the assets. 40% of assets before lawyers take their cut can be a lot more than 50% after. (and I tell both sides if I can).

      Nothing above is being critical of lawyers. They do a job and like everyone, they are entitled to get paid for what they do.

      • They do a job and like everyone, they are entitled to get paid for what they do.

        It's just that some of them, like casinos, drug dealers and human traffickers, profit from human misery.

  • I'm not a lawyer, but:
    You're living as if you're married.
    I believe that in the eyes of the law she has all the legal rights as a wife would.

    • I'm not a pilot, but:
      I believe pushing the black button twice will land the plane.

      • I'm not a structural engineer, but I believe that bridge will be fine if I drive my car over it.

        For the last 3 decades or more, the government has been passing legislation to give de facto marriage relationships the same legal status as marriage relationships. These things include access to IVF, access to estates when a partner dies, access to the family court and a whole host of other things.

        So yeah, I'm not a lawyer, but I believe she has all the legal rights as a wife.

  • Short answer is yes. Contributions other than financial (repairs, running household, maintaining house etc.) also may be taken into consideration and count.
    See a lawyer asap to make financial arrangement. Given what you said it might be too late already so don't delay.
    Or risk losing half of your assets if it goes sour.
    If you get married, get what is commonly called a pre-nup BEFORE you get married. Get INDEPENDENT financial advice as only then an agreement is enforceable.
    Source: Research/Experience/Qualified Solicitor

    • Oh, get off your high horse. You know nothing about their relationship other than this one, small glimpse. OP is simply asking for advice, from a realistic standpoint, on a genuinely worrying, hypothetical scenario. Let's face facts; many marriages end in divorce, it can be very unfair to some parties, and can leave people financially devastated. OP is smart to be concerned about this, relationships aren't all sunshine and roses, and people change.

      OP's other replies in this thread seem very heartfelt, so maybe don't be so arrogant assuming you know, and are in a position to judge, things you have no claim to.

    • Fozzie, maybe you need to live a little more…. once you've been through the tumble dryer a few times in the relationship stakes you might have a little more empathy with the OP's questions.

  • Really not the place to ask this my understanding is if you are living together for for a long period of time (i've heard 6 months) she can take you for half you're assets.

    I think you need to consider two aspects:

    If what you say about you getting married having kids live happy ever after then you are fine.

    The other sad side of the coin is the fact that around 50% of marriages end in divorce and there ares a tower off tails of men (and women) who lost everything they worked so hard for. I know people who's wives just turned around one day and didnt want the relationship anymore.

    P.S

    Feel for any poor bastard that worked 3 jobs to take care of his family and this wife turns around after 50-10years of marriage and says i dont love you anymore takes the house, the kids and the car. Then has to see his kids on the weekends whilst she has a new man in her life to leech off.

    • I know people who's wives just turned around one day and didnt want the relationship anymore. That's a scary prospect for anyone in a marriage :O

  • Happened to best friends brother after being with his girlfriend for 4 years. They were living in his house which he had paid off. She was at uni, not paying rent and not contributing to household expenses. After she graduated they broke up and she not only took half the house, but half his savings as well. He's now happily married with 2 kids and got back on track financially.

    Speak to a lawyer if only its for piece of mind. Breakups can turn bad quickly so don't expose yourself to unnecessary risk.

    • Did she take him through the courts?
      Mighty me, she did well for herself!

    • It makes you think there are gold diggers whether men or women who would take advantage of relationships and aim for taking peoples assets. Especially those who lack of financial income or lack of having the ability to earn. They would go all other paths using relationship to earn a buck. Very sad

    • She was at uni,

      Let me guess, Mining Engineering? ;)

    • She got? Or he gave her?

      I somehow doubt a court would have ruled that she could have 50% of a house paid off before she moved in, too which she did not contribute any rent/maintenance/expenses.

      • She was in contact with a lawyer months before the breakup and seemingly had a plan. He was paying it off when they met and had it paid off before they broke up.
        It was 50%. I don't know if that was due to a good lawyer, having a good plan, the dude giving up or getting done over by the court.

  • A wise man once told me this piece of advice:

    "It's only money."

    • That's a good point and nice to finally see a bit of perspective in this penny pinching thread.

      Can I have half of yours?

      • Hmmm. Then why do we spend half of our lives at work? Why do people work themselves "to the grave"? Why does there seem like there is never enough to go around?

      • "It's only money" is not to be mistaken as money is not important or simply to be given away.

        It's simply meant to remind us all that money is not the most important thing in life. Health, happiness, family, friendship etc. are all way higher on the list than money. So whilst yes it's important to earn and protect your money, if you spend all your energy on money, the others more important things get neglected IMO.

    • A wise man once told me this piece of advice:

      "It's only money."

      You sure that wasn't a poor man?

  • Unfortunately, that's a risk you take with relationships.
    But often, the higher the risk, the better the outcome.
    And then, what's life without that risk anyways, then having not known one?

    • Unfortunately, that's a risk you take with relationships.

      Exactly, but why risk at all. Best to remain single and keep money. Money can buy anything and if you have enough, even, everything. One can sleep at night, knowing money's safe. At the end, one can look back and think about all the wonderful experiences money has provided.

  • Those people that 'owned' their house then got divorced and had to give the other half 50% probably got a shit lawyer or no lawyer at all.

    She won't be entitled to half the house. If it was found that she was entitled to half at law then I'd argue it in equity because she's being unjustly enriched. There are so many other factors as well.

    See a lawyer to get advice. I find the 'house owners' that scrimp and saved to 'make it' are the ones that get reamed because they were too penny wise pound foolish to see a decent lawyer.

  • Put your asset into a family trust of which you are the owner. I believe they can't take it off the trust.

  • If you love a girl and want to marry her, be prepare to loss more than half.
    If you aren't prepare to give up half then she probably isn't the one.

  • After you move in, you should quit your job and let the other party contribute to the mortgate. After all, love is more than money right?

  • Before embarking on a relationship transfer ownership of any property to a Trust of which you are the trustee. That way you don't own the property but you retain full control over it.

    • Exceptions apply. Trust can't hide all.

      • +1 vote

        ^ Exactly if the courts can see that you have controlling interest or even appoint a 'puppet' that acts in your wishes it will not 'save' the Trust from being split.

    • Costs of changing ownership

      • Stamp duty. Changing property ownership will incur stamp duty, which will be calculated based on the valuation of the land. Usually it is between 3 - 5.5 per cent. In some states like Victoria, stamp duty can be waived.
      • Capital gains tax (CGT). Selling or transferring ownership may incur a CGT. If the sale involves an investment property, then the seller will need to pay CGT. As a general rule, it is 25% of the capital gain.
      • Fees. When you sell or transfer the title of a property, you change the conditions of the mortgage, which may incur break fees. If you require a lawyer, there may also be legal fees and valuation fees.

      Source

  • The short answer is yes.

    Please learn from my sad experience. After a failed relationship my now ex-partner's exact words were…. "We've been together for 5 years now, so I'm entitled to half of everything."

    I wanted a written agreement right from the word go, and the answer I got was, "You don't love me", "trust me", "value me", and every other phrase available for regurgitation in the English language, on, and on it went.

    We broke up and I lost a significant portion of my assets. I would never, ever, ever, ever enter another relationship without something in writing about who owns what and what happens to those assets in the event of a break up.

    Just because you are nice, and operate with a moral compass doesn't mean everyone else does.

    Frankly signing a pre-nup, is the greatest love letter either person can put their signature to. You are actually acknowledging in writing that you love the person - not their assets, financial wealth or success.

    In this sorry tale, I was the hapless female.

    Frankly, I think the system absolutely sucks. How any human can take something belonging to someone else, knowing in their heart that they made no contribution to the accumulation of those assets is beyond me. I can only hope that Karma eventually catches up with them.

    And the poster above me is absolutely right on the money - set up a trust right from the word go. As I like to say, 'A trust a day, keeps the gold diggers away!"

    • wow, i really feel for you :( This is the situation i would like to avoid as well. the person you love now and believe will never do such a thing to you, might be a totally different person come 5, or 10 years time..

      • Thanks for the kind words.

        I was absolutely madly in love, and extremely foolish.

        Years later, my trust factor for people still sits at zero.

    • Sounds like he manipulated you and made you feel bad about it, and when you finally dropped the idea and let your guard down he then fleeced you out of your hard earned money. Shame on him.

    • Poppit88
      You wrote my story too and I was the female. Lots of con artist out there guys and girls. I have a zero trust factor now too. Getting burnt is no fun. Binding financial agreement or put it in a trust is the way to go..
      Remember if the person signs he or she signs loves you for you not what you have. I was foolish thinking everyone was honest like me , my now ex wasnt honest. He also use to say your property is yours but when we broke up he wanted half he did not get half but I still had to pay him somethink, it peeved me and ny family off.

    • @poppit88:

      After a failed relationship my now ex-partner's exact words were…. "We've been together for 5 years now, so I'm entitled to half of everything."

      @stephjess3:

      Lots of con artist out there guys and girls.

      It was the work of professionals, not earnest consorts.

  • Can someone contact Dr Edelsten's lawyer for advice on this?

  • Op, we're only hearing your side of the story here. Why don't you invite your lovely partner to this discussion so that we can hear their thoughts about where the relationship is going?

  • If I love someone enough to live with them for two years then im happy to make sure they provided for after we break up. Especially seeing as often one partner has to sacrifice their earning potential for the other. Whether it's having kids or moving for a job. In the rare circumstances where you're wealthy and your partner has nothing and you have no kids then you should know the terms and conditions going into a relationship like that.

  • Mate, it's a gamble. For the last two years you would have picked up whether she would walk away, take half of your assets or not.

    You said it yourself she isn't a good digger then go for your life. If you are not confident don't think about kids yet

  • this post reminded me of this guy who cut everything he owns in half as he lost the divorce settlement. he cut the bed, tv, microwave, car and many other things. I'm sure its on youtube somewhere.

    • was not actually real. It turned out to be a viral marketing video from a german law firm, I think

  • I love ozb.

  • Make her pay rent. If she's truly the one it's gonna be hers anyway but at least you can say she was paying to live there as a tenant and not contributing :P

  • +1 vote

    I hope she doesn't have access to your computer.'

  • This is why you should always date people of your financial equivalent seriously.

    If you want to bang hot chicks, keep it short-term.

    • So, a hot chick negged you….

    • This is why you should always date people of your financial equivalent seriously.

      And what if they don't exist?

    • I don't agree with that. I'd happily date someone above my financial sphere,but I'd be equally insistent that something is signed in the event that things got serious or it was decided upon to live together, get married etc.

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