De Facto Relationship Ending - Settlement

Hi all

So it looks like unfortunately our relationship is ending and before engaging with paid services etc i thought I would touch base to see if anyone has similar experiences or insights they are able to share please

  • De facto couple been together almost 11 years, living together almost 10 years.

  • We have a 2 year old and another baby arriving soon :(

  • Rented together for almost 8 years, before 2 years ago we moved in rent free (bills only) to live downstairs in her dad's place while she has been on maternity leave and now unemployed after redundancy

  • We have no real estate but we have $160k in a joint savings account currently

  • $30k of the savings was a gift to her from her family, $35k was her redunancy payout.

  • When we started the joint savings account, I contributed the $30k savings to my name, she contributed the $20k savings to her name and then there was also the above $30k from her family, totalling $80k in total. The other $80k (given we have $160k savings now) has been $35k her redundancy, and the rest of it savings from her maternity leave pay and me being the sole breadwinner.

  • Having said that, I totally recognise that her contribution of being a stay at home mum is equal if not harder to my role as a financial breadwinner, and I have also benefited from living rent free in her dads place for the past 2 years.

  • Since the 2 years that we have started a family and joint savings account, we have paid for air conditioning ($4k) and other household furnishings etc (another $5k) that she would be keeping. We have also bought another car $10k which is 'my' car. She had already bought and paid for a $35k car about 5 years ago, whereas I used to drive a bomb and upgraded to a much safer car when we started a family (and the $10k difference for the cars came out of our joint savings account).

Just wanting to get some peoples thoughts on what the fairest sort of situation is here please.

Essentially we have $160k on the table, but $30k of that is a gift from her family so obviously I want no part of that. Am I unreasonable in thinking $40-50k to myself is a fair outcome here and she keeps the remaining $110-120, or is that ripping her or myself off? I only brought $30k in initially, and have also got a $10k car upgrade out of it too. But she would also be having all the new furniture etc that we have jointly paid for too and continue to live with her dad rent free whereas I would be using the money to try and somehow afford a mortgage to be within an hours drive of my kids given the ridiculous Sydney real estate market so it's not like I'm wanting extra money to try and be greedy or to go and blow it somewhere.

I also want us to be able to be amicable and for this to be fair and of course there will be child support etc on top which I havent even looked into yet, I just have no idea where to even start with this stuff, and having seen my dad force my mum to go through a messy divorce when I was a kid and the only winners being the lawyers, I definitely don't want to repeat that and just hope we can avoid any messy and expensive ridiculousness which would only at the end of the day hurt us but also our kids

Thanks for any advice

Comments

  • +3

    Sad news. Sorry.

    Approximately how much do you earn?

    I assume your ex will be staying home to raise the kids for the majority of the time?

  • +5

    Condolences.

    My 2c:

    Good luck.

  • +2

    What about super?

    • This was a thought I had. If you have super far in excess of her for the period you were together perhaps a top up of her super could be seen as a meaningful gesture. She will thank you for it later. So many people split up joint assets and then a few years down the track one or both of them have blown the lot on things that do not grow their wealth.

  • +7

    Easy at a high level to me would be

    Give her the 30k gift ( although you could challenge but if you want to be fair don’t)

    Divide the rest to be 65k each (the 10k extra you started with negates give or take the super you accumulated while she stayed at home).

    Then maybe adjust the 65k for to be 45k and her 85k given she may be limited to work for couple of years, thus

    Her 115k, you 45k

    Be fair to me unless I missed something. Just keep it amicable, get an agreement with seperate lawyers, and sign a proper agreement doc, so as to stop a claim in 1 year and 11 months

    For the record, my mates ex wanted 60 percent, they had no kids, he had a house before they met. He said no he wanted 60 percent, she challenged, and she ended up only getting 30 percent.

  • +3

    It'll come down to future earning potential and guardianship of the kids. I believe alimony of ~$250 a week until the child is 18 is expected.

    I think it's fairly common for a 60/40 split of all assets (in favour of the mother) which IMHO would be fair, but how much you earn could send that up to 90/10 in favour of her.

    Definitely consider keeping it civil and out of the courts as lawyers will quickly eat into any savings and courts generally compensate the mother quite well.

    Source: Dad got taken to the cleaners.

    • +3

      Child support depends on the income of the two parents.
      The legal minimum is determined by: https://processing.csa.gov.au/estimator/About.aspx

    • +4

      No Alimony in Australia we use the term "spouse maintenance" and "child support" for the children is different thing altogether.

      • -4

        Same thing different name

  • Generally, the value placed on the homemaker is considered of equal importance to the breadwinner’s financial contributions.

    The Courts will take into account:

    • Assets and liabilities of both parties
    • Assets before the relationship started
    • Direct financial contributions (such as wage earnings or receiving an inheritance)
    • Indirect financial contributions (such as DIY renovations to increase property value)
    • Non-financial contributions (such as looking after the children and home)
    • Relationship length (shorter and longer relationships may have assets split differently)
    • Children from the relationship and who they will reside with
    • Future needs (such as health, ability to earn an income and superannuation)

    Divorce/separation is a confusing emotional time, you don't want to be taken to the cleaners. GET A LAWYER.

    Here's the blog with more info I posted above: https://www.taylorandscott.com.au/family-law/stay-home-paren...

    • +16

      If they each get a lawyer then the majority of that 160k will go to them, why would you want to do that if they can amicably split and walk away from each other ?

      Seems to me the op is very aware of this and just wants a fair split of assets.

  • +6

    Just wanted to say sorry for the situation you and your ex partner are in and fair play to you for trying to be so amicable in the split of savings. My only advice is, especially with 2 kids in the picture, is to try and reach agreement together in a respectful and open way as I think it will stand you well in your relationship as parents into the future. All the best OP.

  • +4

    Keep it away from lawyers. What does she think is fair? If it aligns with your thoughts go with it. If she thinks she should get more, from what you have said that would not be fair.

    Avoid solicitors. They make their money from persuading people to be combative. Legally a solicitor will tell you that you can get more. Her solicitor will advise her that she can get more and your now divided family will end up with less after paying their fees and court costs.

    When negotiating a starting point is to suggest a 50/50 split but indicate that you are prepared to be reasonable. Then she would suggest perhaps the gifts should be taken out of the pot and you should then make each concession until you reach at an agreement.

    If you end up in a place where you end up with more than what you consider your share you can always up her share at the end.

    You sound reasonable to me. It should be possible to arrive at a fair split.

    Kingsville above gave links to where you can document the outcome.

    It is always sad when couples don't work out. However, you both still have good prospects of being excellent parents. Good luck.

  • +3

    So sorry to hear about your situation. I'm sure others have already suggested it but have you considered some sort of couple counselling? Assuming that there is no future to your relationship, they still may be able to help you stay amicable especially since you will have 2 children together. I have heard Relationships Australia or another similar support service can help you in your situation.

    • +18

      Now is exactly the time to be Mr nice Guy. Raising kids is hard. Op is working, he is able to build money back up, if she's looking after the kids she won't have that ability.

      On top of that, trying to screw someone over for a couple of $k, when it could ruin your relationship with ex, and potentially kids, is stupid.

  • +2

    Sit down and talk it out with her. Just you 2. Work out what her position is.

    Go off and get legal advice. You only need 1 appointment. Find out where you stand.

    Go back and talk it out further. The second it stops progressively positively - go back to the lawyer.

  • +2

    Firstly congratulations for becoming free and happier.

    Secondly, those deposit amounts are going to be small compared to child support payments and Superannuation.

    Child Support is calculated on how much time you vs she has custody, how much each of you earn (if she earns zero that is a problem) and the age of the children.

  • Sorry bro.

    Am I unreasonable in thinking $40-50k to myself is a fair outcome here and she keeps the remaining $110-120, or is that ripping her or myself off?

    Hmm that can only be answered by both parties and what alimony arrangement will there be on top of child support.

    If she has been stay at home mum, consider how has her career been set back, multiply by how many years she would be in the work force. Like, her salary could have been 5k higher than if she didn’t have the children and look after the kids at home. Say she is 30 and has 30 years left to work, she would miss out 150k missed salary.

    Etc

    Again, sorry for the stressful times

  • Sorry to hear.

    All the money is part of the "pool" and your noble intentions regarding the gift from the family mean nothing.

    You need to add up the cash plus the CURRENT REALISTIC value of the cars and any other assets (it will be almost nothing). She's entitled to about 80-90% if she has substantive custody of the children, a lot less if you are the primary carer.

    You also have to work out caring arrangements and you should register with family services so they can work out the rate you will have to pay for the next ~18 years.

    Find yourself a collaborative lawyer to work through it at minimum cost.

  • +8

    Having been in your situation, we used the services of Relationships Australia - https://www.relationships.org.au/

    They are so much cheaper than lawyers.

    They helped us discuss the split of property and money, and draft the necessary paperwork. Also helped with a parenting order.

    Wishing you the best going forward.

  • +7

    I'm sorry your relationship is ending. It sounds like you will be awesome co-parents though, so best of luck to you!

    Given the information you provided, this could be one way to split it:

    $160k total

    $30k = hers (family gift)
    $35k = hers (redundancy)
    $20k = hers (initial savings)
    $30k = yours (initial savings)

    So that totals $115k which clearly belongs to her or you.
    The rest ($45k) could be split equally, so $22.5k each.

    That means in total:
    Her = $107.5k
    You = $52.5k

    The house stuff totals $9k and benefits her, and the car totals $10k and benefits you, so I reckon just ignore these since they are close in value.

    • +2

      Superfunds?

      • Honestly I have no idea how superfunds get split in these situations, but that's a good call to check if there's a huge discrepancy.
        There may be depending on how much time she needed to take off when having their first child.

    • You have to take into account primary child care and a few other things. This won't be a 50:50 split

  • sad for the keeds

  • +2

    Sorry to hear. Especially because there are 2 very young kids involved, with one not born yet!
    Aside from the financial implications, which I would judge not so important compared to what is at stake here, my first thought is you have been together for 11 years so you must have been happy with each other.
    Now possibly things may be difficult with a 2 years old and a baby on the way. It is not so uncommon at that stage in a relationship, and every couple has ups and downs. The trick is to work it out during the downs and soon enough things may improve. I don't know the situation, but it may be worth a try and may be putting up with some hard times.
    My 2 cents, for what is worth…

  • +3

    My condolences OP. Watch Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story - probably the closest approximation to the feelings I experienced when I went through my divorce.

    In hindsight, don’t sweat the money - you can earn that back down the line. Concentrate on your health and gaining equal custody to your kids (providing it’s as a much a priority to you as it was for me). My kids were 3 and 1 and I basically gave up the house and everything in it to get equal custody of them.

    Money will come and go but your time with your kids and the bond you need to develop with them is more important than all the riches in Wakanda!

  • -3

    Just curious, is it common for couples to live together for so long and have kids but never get married?

    • +2

      What does marriage signify?.

    • I know a couple with 5 boys, been together about 13 years. Not married.

      • +3

        Haha! My sister and her partner have 5 boys, been together for 20+ years and never married. Maybe it's only allowed for people with 5 boys? :P

        • Is your sister called Ally? I think it is a lot longer than 13 years now that I think about it. Their first was a baby when I first met her. I wonder if it would be weirder if it were a small world or if multiple couples who weren't married had 5 boys :-p

          • +1

            @Quantumcat: No, sadly, but that would be cool if it was the same person! :)

            My family seem to love having kids in multiples of 5. I'm one of 5, my sister has 5, both sets of grandparents had 5, two of my cousins have 5, my aunt has 5…….the list goes on. Weirdly, of this list, the only unmarried ones are the ones with 5 boys (cue the Twilight Zone music). I think I'm onto something here… ;)

    • Do you feel the need to have the state authorise all your relationships, or just that with your special person?

    • +2

      Fairly common. I think it's because in Australia, de facto relationships and married couples are basically treated the same legally (most of the time), so the main reason most people get married is for a cultural reason - not legal. I'd estimate that about 1/3 of people living in Australia don't have strong ties to their ethnic culture - so in a couple where both partners are in that 1/3 they've got very little external pressure to have a formal wedding.

  • Sorry to hear.

    Just keep in mind things are amicable now, but they may not always be in the future. Getting everything in writing now while you’re still on good terms can save some headache & heartache down the track.

    You can discuss in detail what you both view as fair for parenting and financial split, take it to a lawyer to get consent orders or BFA+parenting plan drafted up, and then she can take it to another lawyer for review.

    As posters above have said, the $$$ in question are pretty small compared to securing access to kids. But for the financial side run your circumstances through the child support estimator and get a view on what that looks like at varying income and custody levels.

  • +1

    Thank you OP for reinforcing the fact that

    A. I do not want kids
    B. I do not want shared bank accounts

    I’m if I walk out of my 14 years relationship now I can do this in a week.

    Only problem would be the 2 dogs haha

    • Why a week and not a day?

      • I'd need to find somewhere to live first :-)

    • +7

      I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think there's any difference between joint bank accounts or two seperate individual bank accounts when it comes to determining splitting of assets.

      My understanding was if you wanted to protect your assets in a divorce you've got to put them in your parent's name/other trusted person's name.

  • I would be totalling up all assets after getting together, and splitting the number down the middle.

    The choices you have both made as part of this relationship has contributed to your current position. My view is that you were a singular unit for the time together, hence all decisions are joint, and the outcomes need to be shared.

  • +2

    Thanks for all the replies everyone

    Re super she stopped working and receiving an income approx 2 years ago when our child was born so I guess it would also be fair to give her 50% of my super contributions since that time too. End of the day I'm not looking at ripping anyone off (myself included) and all the money is eventually be going to our kids anyway down the track. Just hoping I can come out of this with enough to not be financially crippled and still be able to afford somewhere nice enough to live thats not more than an hour away from our kids.

    Re the actual relationship we will definitely be exhausting every option possible Including couples counselling before calling it. With a 2yo and a newborn coming into the world it's going to be an extremely demanding time so we just have to try and make this is amicable and pleasant as possible. So far we are basically split up living separately within the same place and her family doesn't even know we are hiding it from everyone (most importantly our 2yo) but there's only so long we are going to be able to keep this up for and we don't want our kids to be in a dysfunctional environment especially during their most formative early years. Really tricky time but I guess we will be guided by what we decide is in the kids best interests and are putting them first for now but it's not a long term solution.

    I guess the strategy for now is to keep saving as much as possible while I'm still living here and if a reconciliation isn't possible then atleast we will have a bit more money saved as a family to split before starting to pay for 2 households.

    Thanks again everyone

    • +1

      I was going to suggest couples counseling as an alternative first step to a lawyer - even if you're unable to work out the relationship, a good couples therapist will be able to help you to discuss this kind of thing and come to a resolution that you can both accept (fairness aside).

      Before paying out of pocket though, check if your employer has an anonymous Employee Assistance Program (or EAP), if they have one it'll usually cover stuff for your partner as, and a surprising amount of companies (virtually every company with an HR department) do have an EAP that no one uses - either because it's not well publicized or just because of the stigma in seeing a therapist.

  • +2

    If you walk away with $30k and your car that will probably be a decent outcome. Go for $110k to her and $50k to you as a starting point and see if you get push back. It can be foolish to go in with a 'fair' offer up front because that will be the starting point from which they will haggle you down from.

    Another thing you will legally have to consider if it gets to lawyers is HECS/ HELP debts if either of you have one outstanding. Even though they only benefit one sole person they are taken into consideration as a debt in the asset pool and can sway the weighting of things.

  • You sound genuine in your intentions. I would act quickly before anybody else gets between you. First focus should be the children. They need to be well homed and not disadvantaged by your splitting of assets. They may not have a stake legally in the joint assets but morally may be a different thing. You only talked about asset split so I can’t talk to the child support or access. These things get very messy very quickly so get it done and agreed. It can be challenged for about 3 years I think (correct me if I’m wrong) so you may need to get a rubber stamp from a lawyer. I don’t envy you or your partner. Keep your heart in the right place because the long term welfare of your kids is what will be the only thing that matters once the work on assets is done and you don’t want to jeopardise their happiness over a few decimal points.

  • -2

    Splitting up when there's a baby on the way just seems like the height of irresponsibility. Try to exhaust all possibilities before you make it final.

    • +1

      People can neg me as much as they want but the relationship was good enough at one point to bring 2 children into the world. I'm sure the OP probably feels bad enough as it is and its not my intention to make him feel worse. But somebody has to point this out especially for the kids long term well-being.

  • Ask for your $30k and car and be happy she’s got the rest of the capital towards raising your kids. She could probably expect some of your super, so be willing to negotiate on that too. Take it to court and you’ll get similar if you’re lucky, and then have to pay your legal costs from your settlement.

  • Get onto Relationships Australia and setup mediation meetings with them. Try and resolve the split amicably and fairly. A family court will usually award upwards of 60+% to a mother if there are kids involved so keep that in mind.
    Come to an agreement through mediation and then they will put it through the family court system.
    Keep in mind that a family court judge can override any decision made if they do not deem it to be fair to either party.
    Try and work through it this way as involving lawyers gets messy and expensive very quickly.
    Lawyers tend to stir up trouble by trying to force you to go for more money and this can drag out very quickly and be very expensive.

    I've been through what you are about to go through now and don't envy you, but keep your cool, be nice to each other and try and do everything through mediation. It will also save your mental health.

    • +2

      The Family Court does not usually award upwards of 60 per cent to the mother. It's these kinds of sweeping generalisations that deter men from pursuing their rights.

      The court will consider each case on its merits.

      I went through it, with kids, and came out at 52 / 48 in her favour.

      If you have strong grounds and can prove you want to remain a loving father to your kids, than be confident. In the eyes of the law, you're both equal.

  • +1

    I sincerely hope you're both able to find a solution.
    However, if not, everyone here mentions avoiding lawyers. I did, but it is far less emotionally-charged when there aren't any children involved.
    I reckonKib33's 'relationships Australia' sounds brilliant - esp. if you get someone really good that you both have faith in.
    One thing though, remember the old adage '90% of lawyers give the rest a bad name'. Cruel, but largely true I reckon.
    However, solicitors who specialise in divorce and separations are near the bottom of the pile.
    If you end up needing a solicitor, or one each, find local ones you can chat with to make sure they really are interested in the best outcome for you both. This is not the business divorce lawyers are in. You'll know who they are - they'll soon be winding you up about how your partner will be plotting getting everything at your loss with some shyster somewhere. Run.

  • -3

    Well well… for the rest of your life you will be paying a woman to see other men

  • +1

    I sincerely hope and pray that both of you will work things out and stay together.
    There is so much to gain by being together than moving apart, especially where you have kids.
    Every relationship has its challenges and issues but with some patience and sacrifice you can work things out.