It is not unusual for assets to be in the name of one party. Both parties feel financially secure during the relationship. It is when the relationship breaks down that the financially dependant party feels at the mercy of the dominant financial party.
Clare was dependent on Peter who was the financial provider in the relationship. They had been married for 20 years. She was the primary homemaker and parent for their 3 children. Peter was a successful businessman. Clare and Peter had led a comfortable lifestyle. The breakdown of their relationship was heated and unexpected by Clare. It filled Clare with financial fear.
The matrimonial home was extremely valuable and Clare knew she could not keep it when property was divided. However, they had an investment property in the city registered in Peter’s sole name. It would a perfect home for her and the children.
Peter was intent on selling the city property. He was acting on anger and did not want Clare to have the benefit of that property if he could not have the home.
Everybody, except Peter, agreed that Clare should have the city property. Clare’s insecurity was fuelled by well-meaning supporters who kept telling her to “whack a Caveat on the title.” Clare was not sure what a Caveat was. She learnt that it had the effect of preventing Peter from selling the city property. She heard it was a simple procedure and didn’t cost much money. Sounded good. Clare lodged a Caveat against the title of the city property to protect it from sale by Peter.
This was dangerous. Clare had other ways of preventing the sale of the city property. The option of placing a Caveat on the title was simple but could have exposed Clare to costs and damages incurred by Peter in relation to a lost sale.
Clare did not have the necessary interest in the property to support an effective Caveat. Therefore, she did not have the right to place a Caveat on the title. This shortcut approach was simple, didn’t cost much but was ineffective (not good value for money she paid). And, Clare was now under pressure, as Peter had the right to lapse the Caveat.
Clare did have the right to make an application to the Court for an Order preventing Peter from selling the property. This is a little more complex and demands thought and preparation. However it is effective and the property would be protected from sale until the property issues were resolved.
It is just so important to get the right legal and tactical advice when dealing with Family Law property issues. You need to take effective action and apply persuasive pressure to achieve the best outcome.
The “whack a Caveat on” approach can be very dangerous, costly and ineffective.
If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your property settlement and protection of assets, please complete the contact form or call Family Law Matters on 02 9523 3007.