Landmark study into divorce finds couples don't fool around

THE first large-scale study of post separation property division in a decade involving 9000 separated parents from around Australia has revealed a much more pragmatic approach to sorting out property settlements.

It found separating couples do not have large amounts of money to divide and mostly sort things out themselves fairly quickly to avoid lengthy fights over property.

The report found the most common reason for accepting a settlement was wanting to move on with about two-thirds of those who reported receiving an unfair settlement said they had accepted it because they wanted to 'get things over with.'

The Australian Institute of Family Studies' commissioned report revealed stereotypes of couples endlessly fighting over property settlements during divorce and relationship breakdown was essentially a myth.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Rae Kaspiew said the findings are based on a sample of married and cohabiting parents who had been separated about five years.

She said many had young pre-school or primary school-aged children.

"We found that close to half had finalised their property division within a year although this took longer if couples had more assets to divide," she said.

"By comparison, more than two thirds of parents with under $40,000 in assets had resolved property division at the time of separation."

Dr Kaspiew said separating parents across all income levels in the study had generally sorted out their own affairs.

"The majority of separating parents had resolved property settlements without resorting to lawyers and courts, contrary to stereotypes about separation and painful fighting over assets," she said.

The report found more than 60% of fathers and mothers considered the property division was fair, but a substantial minority, between 30 to 40%, considered the settlement had been either somewhat unfair or very unfair.

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