property settlement overseas assets

PROPERTY SETTLEMENT OVERSEAS ASSETS – HOW DOES FAMILY LAW CONSIDER OVERSEAS PROPERTY?

Do you or your partner own property overseas? Are you or your partner entitled to an asset located outside Australia?

In Australia, we have a multicultural society. As our society becomes increasingly globalised, not only are our cuisines and culture enhanced but (keeping a Family Law focus) marriages and de facto relationships between people who originate from or travel to and live in different nations are becoming more common. In such circumstances it is increasingly the case that when these relationships break down there will be issues regarding where the divorce and property proceedings should take place and how assets in different countries will be treated.

If you wish to know how when considering a property settlement overseas assets will be considered by the Court and a likely outcome, contact our Divorce Lawyers Brisbane and North Brisbane Divorce Lawyers to receive individual specific advice. You are also welcome to read on to learn more…

In a recent case before the Federal Circuit Court of Australia at Melbourne Sinha & Sinha [2018] FCCA 2952, the Court indicated how property settlement overseas assets will be considered by the court. In that case, Judge Hartnett Ordered that the Husband return funds that he had transferred overseas to allow its just and equitable division between the parties.

In the case:

  • the parties had been married in India in 1999;
  • throughout the marriage had lived in multiple countries for education and employment opportunities;
  • the parties had 2 children together born in 2002 and 2011;
  • moved to reside in Australia in 2013;
  • separated in March 2017;
  • had an agreed property pool with assets to the value of $754,658 made up of bank accounts superannuation and motor vehicles in various countries but mostly Australia and India.

At the time of the hearing the Husband remained overseas and was not present or available for cross examination but was represented by a Barrister in Australia.

The Wife in her documents and submissions had made claims that the Husband owned further property oversea but was not able to adduce evidence to that effect. She claimed it was a commercial decision that it was too expensive to conduct searches for the evidence in the relevant country.

Over a period of time, the husband withdrew a total sum of approximately $260,000 from accounts in Australia and India and transferred those monies to accounts in his sole name in another country. It was held that his depletion of funds in the Australian and Indian bank accounts was a planned action taken by him to deny the wife access to funds and/or an appropriate property settlement. The Court had issued an order earlier in proceedings and he returned the sum of $250,000 to the trust account of the wife’s solicitor, to be held on trust pending the Court’s determination.

On consideration of the material before the Court, the Judge Ordered that the wife retain all Australian bank accounts in her name, the $250,000 in the solicitor trust account, her superannuation entitlement, the majority of the husband’s Australian superannuation entitlement, and the husbands car in Australia.

The Judge further Ordered that on account of the husband’s actions in failing to act in a reasonable way to negotiate property matters with the wife and for unnecessarily prolonging the proceedings that the Husband pay an amount of the Wife’s legal fees incurred.

Whilst the husband had taken deliberate actions to moved funds and assets overseas and deliberately resided in a country where child support payments could not be enforsed against him, the Court made Orders binding upon him rather than on the property to recover the assets and used assets located in Australia to achieve a Just and Equitable outcome for the wife.

Contact our experienced divorce lawyers Brisbane and divorce lawyers North Brisbane for a complimentary initial call. You are also welcome to book a fixed-fee initial consultation with us for more detailed advice tailored to your circumstances. We are ready to assist you to obtain a property settlement overseas assets and/or local assets, with obtaining a parenting plan or parenting orders or with any other area of family law that concerns you .

No matter your situation, we will assist you to resolve your family law issues and leave you free to get on with life!

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances such as that provided in a personal consultation with LGM Family Law.