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Dividing Overseas Assets During Divorce Settlements in Australia

When couples go through a divorce in Australia, they often worry about how their overseas assets will be divided during settlement.

If you have a significant amount of assets abroad and plan to file for divorce in Australia, it is wise to first get a basic understanding of the legal situation. Experienced divorce lawyers Sydney can help you navigate such complex legal matters.

After all, you’ve put in a lot of effort and money to expand your assets, and the last thing you want to happen after a divorce is to lose all of it. Fortunately, the entire system of splitting the foreign assets following a divorce is covered under Australian law..

In this article, we will discuss the fundamentals of overseas property division in Australia, as well as your legal alternatives.

Property Settlement Process in Australia

Property settlement is an agreement between spouses about how to divide assets, pay debts, and make other financial decisions following a divorce or legal separation. Finality, the creation of your own asset pool and the ability to move forward without restrictions are the main benefits of a well-done property settlement.

  • Contrary to common assumption, it is possible to reach a property settlement outside of court.
  • Both parties must get a consent order or a financial agreement to complete their property settlement. Consent orders and binding financial agreements may be similar in effect, but they may differ significantly.
  • If the parties may also decide to protect their deceased Estates to ensure neither spouse can make a claim against the other.
  • A consent order can be negotiated without legal advice but doing so is not recommended. Once made, property orders cannot be varied with very limited exceptions such as fraud.
  • A consent order needs judicial approval, while a financial arrangement does not. A financial agreement’s purview is also restricted to financial and property matters.

To solve complex legal matters, it is best to hire estate and family lawyers in Sydney from reputed law firms. Renowned law firms employ legal experts with extensive knowledge, expertise, and training to provide their clients with the best outcomes.

Evaluation of Overseas Assets

Overseas assets of one or both of the parties are included in the matrimonial asset pool. This raises issues of valuation (as these would usually be overseas valuations), translation of overseas documents and issues of jurisdiction as to whether the Court has power to make orders that would be enforced by a foreign jurisdiction in which the asset is located.

Provided the overseas assets can be identified and valued, they can be dealt with by adjusting against a party’s separate assets and entitlement to assets within the jurisdiction.

For tax reasons, this may also be a better outcome.

Therefore, collaborating with the best wills and estates lawyer is recommended to achieve the best results. 

Options for Dividing Overseas Assets

Knowing your alternatives when dividing foreign-held assets following a divorce or separation is important. You must also be aware of how the Australian Family Court handles these cases.

A Binding Financial Agreement

It is possible to forgo judicial involvement by creating a legally enforceable financial arrangement. This enforceable contract helps to share assets and properties, including those located abroad, by using a financial agreement.

The scope of a binding financial agreement and associated documents is broader, more flexible and may be better suited to the facts of your case.

To navigate through complex family settlements, it is best to hire family lawyers in Sydney.

Consent Orders

It is also possible to apply for orders, by consent, which does require approval by the Court. This is however a relatively simple process where Orders are then made in chambers (or in private) on the papers and without a hearing.

The consent orders should only be done with the assistance of the best divorce lawyers in Sydney. The court will consent if they believe the orders to be just and reasonable.


If you and your ex-spouse are unable to come to an agreement, the Australian Family Court will make this decision for you.  When it comes to litigation in family court, individuals typically have less influence over the assets they can keep. Consequently, hiring the best legal help is the optimal solution to achieve the best results.

How to Select the Best Option for You

Ultimately, when it comes to divorce settlements, it is recommended to make your decisions based on your divorce situation. A settlement can be your best option if you and your ex-spouse agree about the property division.

Any agreement must be in writing and in the correct form. Consult your divorce lawyer to determine which option is best for you.

Litigation can be your only option if the opposing party is uncooperative or unreasonable. 

It is not recommended that you decide to divide your foreign possessions with your ex-spouse without a lawyer present.

Experienced international family attorneys and divorce lawyers in Sydney can assist you in leveling the playing field and possibly stopping the other party from taking advantage of you.

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