Preparing for property settlement negotiations

When negotiating a property settlement after separation it is important to have a clear understanding of the extent and value of the property to be divided between you and your former partner.

This includes any interest you may have in a financial resource such as a trust, an estate or a claim for compensation. Parties have a positive obligation to exchange information about their financial position so negotiations can be had with confidence to reach a settlement outcome.

In some cases, one party may have managed the finances more than the other, but there is a common understanding of what is in the pool to be divided.

In other cases, assets and liabilities may have been hidden or misrepresented and further investigation is required.

It is easier to work out what needs to be divided when an exchange of information happens early in the negotiations. Bank statements, pay slips, income tax returns and superannuation statements are generally easy to obtain and should provide current information, including a summary of long service leave entitlements, if relevant.

If the value of your home or investment property is agreed upon with your former partner, valuations may not be required. Still, at the very least it is recommended to have local real estate agents appraise the property value based on current market conditions. If appraisals are not accepted, it may be necessary to engage a qualified valuer to prepare a report which you can rely upon if your matter proceeds to Court.

If you or your former partner have an interest in a business, it may also be appropriate to have the business valued.

The Federal Circuit and Family Law Rules oblige parties to exchange documents relevant to their assets and liabilities in dispute when requested and to continue to update those documents until there is a final property settlement.

Once settled and your agreed terms are made as a Court Order, you should have confidence that your negotiations are finalised.

However, if parties have not been transparent in their representation of the assets, liabilities and financial resources identified and adjusted, the Court has the power to set aside the Orders made and may grant leave for the making of different Orders where appropriate.

To discuss your property settlement contact one of our experienced family lawyers on 07 5609 4933.

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