Relationship breakdowns include the separation and divorce of de facto and married couples. Parties involved with relationship breakdowns include the two parties separating as well as any children that resulted from the relationship. Although de facto relationships are not legally binding unlike marriages, the Australian legal system still has means to govern over disputes that arise over separation. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (FLA) is the main body of legislation that oversees matters relating to disputes arising from relationship breakdowns particularly property and methods of resolving disputes. Other issues that emerge from relationship breakdowns may also relate to wills and property.
A will is a document that states how a person intends to distribute their property and assets after their death, on many occasions during a marriage, spouses will write wills that leave property for their spouse. Under Section 13 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), a divorce or an annulment of a testator’s marriage will deem any beneficial disposition for the former spouse to be void. The presence of this section can be incredibly effective as spouses may pass before getting the opportunity to amend their wills. As wills are made in anticipation of the marriage, the Succession Act ensures that the change in the relationship status reflects how the will is handled in the event that the testator passes before they are able to change their will. This ultimately achieves justice for the testator for it is highly likely that they would not have wanted their previous spouse to have inherited their property as they are no longer in a relationship.
‘Property’ within a marriage has a broad definition that includes homes, bank accounts, shares and household goods. Disputes arising from the distribution of property are frequent when relationships