Future Inheritance in Divorce Settlements Australia: 3 Important Factors

future inheritance in divorce settlements australia | Dandenong Family Lawyers

Future Inheritance in Divorce Settlements Australia

Understanding the complexities of future inheritance in divorce settlements is crucial for anyone navigating the family law system in Australia.

This topic can significantly impact the division of assets and financial outcomes post-divorce.

In Australia, future inheritances are generally not considered part of the asset pool in divorce settlements.

The Family Law Act 1975 governs property division and does not explicitly include future inheritances. However, the court may consider them under certain circumstances, particularly if the inheritance is imminent or the individual is a beneficiary of a significant estate.

The Timing and Certainty of the Inheritance

The timing and certainty of a future inheritance play a critical role in its consideration during divorce proceedings.

If an inheritance is likely to be received soon or there is a high degree of certainty about its receipt, the court may consider it relevant.

This can influence the division of current assets and the financial responsibilities assigned to each party.

The Impact on Property and Financial Settlements

While future inheritances are not directly included in the asset pool, they can indirectly affect the settlement.

For instance, a future inheritance might impact the court’s view on spousal maintenance or the division of other assets.

If one party stands to receive a substantial inheritance, the court may adjust the settlement to ensure a fair outcome for both parties.

Need a Lawyer?

Legal Precedents and Case Law

In Australian family law, several notable cases have involved future inheritances influencing the court’s decisions.

These cases highlight that while future inheritances are not straightforwardly included in the property pool, they can be relevant in determining a fair and equitable settlement.

Understanding these precedents can provide valuable insights into how future inheritances might be treated in divorce settlements.

Notable Cases Involving Future Inheritances

  1. Bishop v Bishop (2013): In this case, the court considered the imminent inheritance of one party. The husband was due to receive a substantial inheritance from his parents, who were elderly and in poor health. The court considered this, adjusting the property settlement to ensure fairness, given the likelihood of the inheritance being received soon.
  2. Calvin v Calvin (2014): Here, the wife was expected to receive a significant inheritance from a family trust. The court noted that although the inheritance was not part of the current asset pool, it could not be entirely ignored due to its potential impact on the wife’s financial circumstances. The future inheritance influenced the court’s decision on spousal maintenance and the division of existing assets.
  3. Jones v Jones (2015): This case involved a husband named beneficiary in his wealthy uncle’s will. The court recognised the husband’s future inheritance as a factor, considering it in the context of the overall settlement. The court decided to award the wife a larger share of the existing property pool, anticipating the husband’s future financial gain.

Factors Considered by the Court

In these cases, several factors influenced the court’s decision to consider future inheritances:

  • Imminence and Certainty: If an inheritance is expected to be received soon or is highly certain, the court is more likely to consider it.
  • Financial Disparity: When one party stands to gain significantly more from a future inheritance, the court may adjust the settlement to ensure equity.
  • Contribution to the Marriage: The court also considers each party’s contributions to the marriage, both financial and non-financial, and how a future inheritance might offset these contributions.

Legal Implications and Strategies

Understanding these legal precedents can help parties in divorce proceedings strategise effectively. Here are a few considerations:

  • Full Disclosure: Parties should disclose any potential future inheritances during settlement negotiations.
  • Legal Advice: Consulting with a family lawyer experienced in handling inheritance issues can provide clarity and help protect interests.

Protecting Your Future Inheritance

To safeguard future inheritances, individuals can consider prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, which can explicitly outline the treatment of inheritances in the event of a divorce. These agreements provide clarity and can help prevent disputes.

Contact Dandenong Family Lawyers today for a confidential consultation. Let our experienced team guide you on your rights regarding future inheritances and explore legal options to best protect your financial interests.



Scroll to Top