What is interim relationship property distribution?   

An interim distribution of relationship property is when a certain amount of money or assets shared between separated partners is distributed before their final property settlement. Its main purpose is to combat inequality which often results from separation; something which is usually only remedied at the final property settlement occurring 3-6 months after initial action.   

When is an interim relationship property distribution granted?   

A Court will grant an interim distribution of relationship property in situations it considers “just”.    

This can include situations where the separation results in a wealth disparity, often leaving one party significantly better off than the other. In many cases the less well off party finds themselves struggling to meet day-to-day costs as well as legal fees, whilst the other party remains to a large extent unaffected by these same burdens.

In these types of situations, the Court will often consider it “just” to award the less well off party a portion of relationship property to help pay for their expenses; particularly legal fees necessary to ensure a fair final property settlement.    

Other situations where a Court may grant an interim relationship property distribution is when the other party is diminishing or damaging the value of relationship property.   

Case example:   

Mary seeks an interim distribution of relationship property. She wants to access her share of money from the sold family home held in trust for both herself and her former husband, John.    

In this situation, the Court is likely to grant Mary an interim distribution of property as she is $15,000 in debt, unable to pay legal fees, and needs to provide a home for the children of her marriage. This reasoning outweighs the argument that keeping the money in the trust will provide an incentive to resolve the dispute faster, and that an interim property order could potentially disadvantage John.    

However, it is important to note that Mary’s situation is relatively extreme, thereby making an interim property distribution necessary to achieve justice before final settlement.  


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