Ex Delaying Property Settlement? What You Should Do

An ex delaying your property settlement is annoying, frustrating, and could be damaging to your final asset allocation.

Whether your previous partner is acting out of malice, ignorance, laziness, or self-interest, it’s important that you act promptly — both to resolve the matter to save you unnecessary stress and to receive your fair share.

Why Your Ex Might Stall the Property Settlement Process

The reasons behind exes delaying property settlements are varied.

For example, if you initially instigated the separation, their procrastination may simply be out of revenge. Or, if the settlement means your ex may have to leave the family home, they may be creating a hold-up so they have somewhere to live.

In my experience, stalling by one partner is often due to one of the following factors:

  • Anger, bitterness, or retaliation.
  • Refusal to accept that the relationship is over.
  • Reluctance to lose or share one or more assets.
  • False belief their position is strengthened by a delay, making the other party ‘give in’ to their property demands.
  • Upset and distress over the break-up, making dealing with separation issues painful.
  • Lack of understanding that a property settlement is required.
  • Being uncomfortable or worried about legal procedures.

The Ways Former Partners Stall Property Settlements

There are numerous ways that a former spouse can delay a property settlement — from complicated and expensive legal procedures to straightforward procrastination. Simply refusing to respond, or being extraordinarily slow at engaging in the settlement process, is the easiest and most annoying form of delay.

While not an exhaustive list, the methods employed by exes to stall property settlements include:

  1. Refusing to communicate with you or your legal representative.
  2. Communicating, yet unwilling to make any firm decisions about the settlement.
  3. Utilising emotional blackmail, manipulation, or coercion to increase your stress.
  4. Frequently changing their legal representative to extend the negotiation procedure.
  5. Refusing what would be considered reasonable settlement offers.
  6. Declining to provide all relevant information regarding assets and liabilities.
  7. Trying to hide, dispose of, or transfer assets.
  8. Arguing about the valuation of assets.

Therefore, your approach and solutions to speed up the delay depend on your ex’s stalling tactics. An expert Family Lawyer can deliver proactive and effective methods to ensure the settlement is completed promptly.

The Benefits of Delaying a Property Settlement

If your former wife, partner, or ex husband is delaying property settlement, you’re probably wondering — are they actually receiving any benefit, apart from the possible self-centred pleasure of being an annoyance?

There are a few possible advantages to procrastination. However, they are specific and unlikely to apply in the majority of property settlements.

Perhaps the most understandable reason for stalling is when one of the parties involved in the settlement is about to receive an inheritance. 

If a significant windfall is likely to be received during the property settlement process, the beneficiary may delay proceedings to take legal advice on ways to keep this inheritance from being part of the asset pool — and therefore prevent the other party from receiving a share.

Alternatively, if the procedure occurs during an economic downturn, the market price of any businesses or properties included in the settlement may be considered undervalued. One party may therefore attempt to stall the process in the hope that the market will pick up, increasing the value of their share.

If you’re considering making steps to slow down a property settlement — it’s crucial you seek the advice of an experienced Family Lawyer. Taking expert counsel will ensure that your delays are within the bounds of the law — and most importantly, are in your best interests.

The Downsides of Delaying a Property Settlement

If the property settlement delay is malicious, without just cause, or conducted irresponsibly, the downsides typically outweigh the benefits — for both parties.

While your ex may receive some short-term unprincipled pleasure in preventing you from receiving your share promptly, in most circumstances, they will only be harming themselves once the settlement is finally completed.

The most common disadvantages I’ve seen over the years include:

  • Significant escalation in legal costs.
  • Unnecessary prolonging of stress, pain, and upset.
  • Increased risk of assets being removed, disposed of, or transferred before you receive your share.
  • Risk of a market downturn reducing the final value of your settlement.
  • Malicious spending of money — or taking on debt — during the delay by your ex.
  • Requirement for costly court petitions to ensure that a settlement is reached.

If you feel that your ex is being unnecessarily and detrimentally slow in completing the property settlement — you need to speak to an expert Family Lawyer to ensure your entitlements aren’t lost.

You Need To Act in a Delayed Property Settlement — And Quickly

As soon as you decide to separate, you can begin the property settlement process. However, when your divorce is finalised — you only have twelve months to complete the procedure.

Additionally, I’m often asked by people who are unmarried, but who have been living in a de facto relationship — how long after separation can you claim property in Australia? In this circumstance, the parties have two years from the date of separation to complete the property settlement.

Therefore, whether you’re getting divorced or leaving a relationship — and your ex is stalling — you need to take action to ensure you don’t find yourself out of the strict time frames, and miss the opportunity for settlement.

Firstly, speak to an expert Family Lawyer.

Experienced in property settlement delays, they will work with you to identify your ex’s reasons for the procrastination, explore the tactics your former partner is using to stall, and then deliver you with guidance on the steps to take to rapidly resolve the issue.

Typically, the initial course of action will be to demand complete disclosure from your ex — including a time limit for your former spouse to provide information and make a reasonable offer.

You might then go through mediation to create a formalised property settlement agreement — such as a consent order or binding financial agreement. And, if they refuse or fail to enter mediation, your lawyer can then assist you with applying to the FCFCOA (Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia) for a property settlement.

What To Do if the Property Settlement Time Frame Has Elapsed

If your ex’s procrastination has pushed you out of the twelve-month time limit — take legal advice immediately.

Under certain circumstances — for example, your children suffering possible hardship without a settlement — the FCFCOA may consider a property settlement application. If successful, a new deadline will be made for the completion of the process.

Remember, this extension is by no means guaranteed. Therefore, take expert counsel promptly to protect your interests.

How To Force a Property Settlement Before Your Divorce or Split

If you’re someone who likes to safeguard against problems before they arise, you can protect your share of the assets and increase the likelihood of a prompt settlement with a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA).

Known by many as a prenup — albeit slightly inaccurately — a BFA is a contract that determines how you and your partner/spouse’s money, property, and investments are distributed should you separate or divorce. 

Agreed during, after, or pre-emptively before marriage — it can avoid the need for court-determined property settlements.

Binding Financial Agreements are effective and powerful tools — but they do require you to give up your fair and equitable share rights under the Family Law Act. Furthermore, they are legally binding and difficult to set aside. Therefore, take expert advice before entering into such a contract.

Don’t Accept Delays — You’re Harming Your Best Interests

Property settlement is a crucial part of separation and/or divorce. Not only does it ensure that both partners receive a fair share of the asset pool, but also acts as a kind of closure on the relationship — allowing both parties to move on with their lives.

Therefore, it should be undertaken with care and thoughtful consideration — the process should not be rushed through or taken lightly.

However, your ex maliciously, lazily, or tactically delaying the settlement can only damage your interests — elevating your stress, heightening your lawyer expenses, and perhaps reducing your final financial share.

It’s crucial you take prompt legal advice.

As expert Family Lawyers, at Falzon Legal, we will navigate you considerately and professionally towards a swift conclusion. Don’t stand for your ex delaying property settlement — speak to us today.