L-9, 263 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
02 8651 4118

Trust Structures


At Sydney Divorce Lawyers, we specialise in effective and creative solutions in property settlements involving complex corporate and trust structures.

‘Property’ has a very wide definition under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Although the assets of a relationship may exist in a corporate or trust structure, this does not protect them from asset division as a result of family law proceedings.

Many of our clients have their assets in a discretionary/family trust, with the idea that this is a method of protecting assets from a family law dispute. However, this is a common misconception. Assets that are in trusts can be subject to a family law property settlement.

Each case is different, and the Court will look at the facts of the individual situation when deciding whether the trust assets can become a part of the property settlement. The Court considers the person with ‘effective control’ over a company or trust to be a more significant factor than the position of a party, i.e. the assets of a company or trust may come into the property settlement even if a party is not a director.

When determining ‘effective control,’ the Court will look at a variety of factors, including;

  1. Whether a party has the sole power to appoint a trustee;
  2. Is a party a beneficiary of the trust?;
  3. Could one party receive the entire benefit of the trust?;
  4. Whether a trustee company is solely controlled by a party.

At Sydney Divorce Lawyers, we have expertise in handling matters which involve business and personal assets held by companies or trusts. Our founder, Ross has a background in running a large business, and now maintains a variety of independent board positions. Our family law team has access to expert commercial solicitors that have experience with hundreds of corporate clients, both in Australia and internationally.

Our lawyers understand the importance of providing business orientated and practical solutions to property disputes.

We have connections with respected advisors in this field, including expert accountants, tax advisors, financial planners and valuers. We understand that property settlements are complicated by various tax implications when assets are tied up in companies or trusts. This is why it is important that you receive accurate and creative advice on how to divide your assets, so as to minimise the tax bill. The valuation of the company can be especially difficult, depending on its structure, and our access to experts in this field ensures we can provide incisive advice on this.

Whether you have a small private company or a large corporate entity, a complex trust structure or a relatively simple family trust, we have the commercial experience and a depth of understanding that we can apply to your matter.