COMMENT:

Q. My partner and I met four years ago and have been living together for three and a half years. We are now separating. She has two children from a prior relationship who live with their father and visit us twice a week. We are both working professionals and have been sharing our money, apart from in one area.

My partner has been paying her child support from her bank account as well as a couple of legal bills for sorting out parenting arrangements with her former partner.

I have been saving up for two years to buy a boat. It was something we talked about all the time - she has kids and I'll have a boat. I expected to keep these savings when we parted, but she said she's entitled to half of it. This is totally unfair - I was happy to contribute when the children visit, and we have needed a bigger apartment for when they stay with us, but this is not what we agreed.

Can she really do this? If we're sharing bank accounts, can I be compensated for all the child related costs she has paid?

A: Verbal agreement

Unfortunately, a verbal agreement is not enough when it comes to dividing your relationship property, you need a formal legal agreement like a prenup. Without a formal agreement the terms of your separation will be governed by the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976

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The Act dictates that once you have been together for three years, generally speaking, your assets and debts become "relationship property" which are divided equally if you separate. This includes assets like property, bank account balances, superannuation, cars and furniture. You can have relationship debts such as credit cards

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