The asset pool
What are assets?
'Assets' is the legal term used when talking about all the property that people own. This includes real estate, motor vehicles, shares, superannuation, furniture and personal property such as jewellery and tools.
What are liabilities?
'Liabilities' is the legal term used when talking about all the debts that people owe. This includes home loans, credit cards, personal loans, business loans, student loans and tax debts.
What is included in the asset pool?
All the following things need to be included in the asset pool:
- assets owned by each person before the relationship began (for example, one person may have already owned a house)
- assets bought during the relationship
- assets bought or obtained in some other way following separation
- debts of each person when the relationship began
- debts from during the relationship
- debts from after the relationship, and
- superannuation of each person.
Does it matter whose name the asset is in or who is responsible for liabilities?
It does not matter if assets are legally in only one person’s name or in both your names – it needs to be included in the asset pool.
It also does not matter which spouse actually bought the property, used it, or in the case of liabilities who is responsible for the liabilities. This may be taken into account later when working out how the asset pool will be divided.
Do I have to tell my ex-partner about my assets and liabilities?
It is very important that you and your ex-partner tell each other about all your assets and liabilities when you separate and throughout the time when you are working out how to divide your property.
The law says you must share information and documents about your assets and liabilities. This legal requirement is known as the 'duty of disclosure'.
Sharing information about property and finances helps to work out what the asset pool is and gives you a clear picture of what will need to be divided between you and your ex-partner.
What can I do if I don’t know what assets and liabilities my ex-partner has?
Your ex-partner is required to tell you about their assets and liabilities when you are working out how to divide your property. You can ask your ex-partner to provide information and documents about their assets and liabilities when you start negotiating about how property will be divided and throughout the property settlement process.
There is a Family Court of WA brochure, Duty of Disclosure in Family Law Cases which you may wish to give your ex-partner which explains the duty of disclosure in property cases.
Reviewed: 7 March 2023.