Last Updated 1 August 2016

Property

There is no legal requirement for either person to transfer their property into joint names once they are married. However, if there is a dispute over property when a husband and wife separate, even assets in one party’s name only may be subject to orders of the family law courts (i.e. the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia), depending upon the circumstances of the case (see the Property Division When Couples Separate chapter).

It is common for married couples to buy homes, units or land in their joint names as either joint tenants or tenants in common. In these circumstances, neither party can subsequently sell or give away jointly owned property without the consent of the other, even though only one party may have provided the finance.

Wills and estates

Unless a will specifically states that it is made in anticipation of a particular marriage, marriage revokes a will. This is because the law presumes that spouses intend to provide for each other. Spouses should make fresh wills after marriage to reflect their intentions.

Divorce does not automatically revoke a will. Those parts of the will that give property to a spouse or appoint a former spouse as executor of the will are treated as if the spouse takes no benefit under the will of the testator. The rest of the will remains in force (see the Wills and Estates chapter).