Property and Financial Settlements

After separation, you will at some stage need to unravel the property and financial arrangements. Property settlements can be difficult, and our specialist family law team advises addressing these issues as early as needed.

There are the common issues such as what should happen with the family home and the superannuation. You may also need to consider how to approach investments, various structures such as trusts and companies and even what the effect of, or impact on, of third parties may be. No matter what your issues are, you should seek advice from our expert family law team. Every case is different and there is no universal answer to every case, just general guiding principles that take years to learn how to apply. You may be surprised by tax issues you had never considered. Different approaches, and the practical impact of certain actions may have beneficial tax advantages. Often short-term arrangements can have long-term consequences, so get advice early.

Know where you stand early.  We try to give preliminary advice in our first appointment.  Our family law experts will appraise what steps to take and assess your likely entitlement. We will help you reach the best possible outcome. We have particular expertise in complex financial cases and draw on the diverse experience and qualifications of our family lawyers. Most importantly, we will always provide you with realistic advice. We often discuss a cost/benefit analysis with our clients which means that we direct you to considering how much a particular course of action may cost in comparison with the benefit that may be obtained. We know that emotion influences decisions, but we take our professional role as legal advisors very importantly and we add value, by listening, advising and tailoring your needs to the achievable, and leaving you in no doubt where you stand. By working with you, we can help you finalise your case as quickly as possible, if that suits, while making sure that you are able to secure your financial future as best as you can.

The need for specialist advice is particularly important when:

  • Inheritances form a large part of the assets available;
  • The other side is stubborn/spiteful/not over it/dishonest/all of the above;
  • There is a business to be valued;
  • Parents of one spouse have contributed more ie provided money, real estate, care of children, private school fees;
  • Assets controlled in inappropriate persons names or trusts; and
  • Third party disputes.

Each property settlement has to be assessed on its own unique facts. There are a number of steps to consider and 4 of these are listed below:

  1. Does justice require any split or can the assets just lie where they fall.
  2. Identify the property available for distribution. This involves totalling the value of the assets, taking away the amount of the liabilities, and adding back any relevant funds or assets that may have been spent or disposed of or sold. Although it is high school maths often the biggest problems arise in relation to this step. Valuation issues, disputed items and undisclosed assets are where we can find extra value in your case.
  3. Assess what percentage range or dollar figure each party should receive for contributions. A good legal argument can sometimes squeeze 10% extra here or there, or for example keep an inheritance out (or in).  The uncertainty in the law can be used for or against you here so make sure you have the best arguments in your favour.  Contributions take into account financial, non-financial and homemaker/parent contributions. Some of the relevant considerations at this step are whether either party brought any assets to the marriage/relationship, whether either party received any inheritances or other “windfalls” during the marriage/relationship, the length of the marriage/relationship, and the circumstances for the parties and the children since separation. There is no formula to working out the percentage as each case is based on its own unique factors. We will give you the tightest range of percentages possible.  It is discretionary, so we persuade and advise to seek the discretion goes your way
  4. Assess other factors, usually called the future needs factors, to determine whether there should be an adjustment to percentages or dollars reached at step 3. There is a long list of factors to be considered. We provide a list of these factors at the first appointment, and highlight the relevant ones for your case.  Those that are most commonly relevant relate to the care of the children, the earning capacities, age and health. Again, there is no formula, but an experienced lawyer will accurately give a range of percentage or dollar adjustments.

Please call us on 9793 7888 to discuss your situation and we will advise and guide you on the best way to act and what to expect during such a process.