When a couple splits up as either a married couple or a de facto couple, there is a legal process available to them which involve the division of the assets of the relationship. A property settlement refers to the process where the couple either through the process of consent or by court order settles that each will take away particular values of the assets of the relationship.
Although the law much prefers the process of consent, if this is not possible then a court order will be made and it is considered contempt of court to ignore a court order. This can result in a hefty fine or even imprisonment if it is serious, so as a last resort, the court process is a binding and final element in the system of family law in Australia.
Also, couples can form what is called a binding financial agreement if they can come an agreement about the division of the property and as long as they both get independent financial advice saying that they have understood the implications of the document that they are signing and their full legal effect and that these things have been explained to them by a lawyer, a binding financial agreement can come into force under the terms of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). This is the major form of a property settlement in Australia.