Property settlement is often a contentious issue. It involves bricks and mortar property, investments and shares, cars, superannuation, savings, furniture and effects , mortgages, loans, credit cards – anything that can be regarded as either an asset or a liability.
Working out a property settlement takes into account past contributions (which can include domestic, ‘home-maker’ or non-financial contributions), inheritances, future earning capacity, and future needs, both of the parties and of the children. The length of the relationship, the roles you played, and your future earnings potential are all relevant considerations. The aim is to get a fair outcome for everyone involved given the unique circumstances of the case – sometimes adjustments need to be made in favour of one party. If you were either married, or in a de-facto relationship that lasted at least 2 years (less in certain exceptional circumstances) then talk to us about your options, and how to proceed.
Property settlement is a forensic process. We are experts at finding out about all your former partner’s assets and making sure you are treated fairly and in accordance with the law. Our approach is not to jump up and down on the spot and make a lot of noise, we are just calm, methodical, and tenacious. Even where parties are in agreement, the law still says that full and frank disclosure of all relevant facts is required. If you want to settle your matter amicably, and a lawyer is drafting or advising on court orders they are still bound to provide legal advice to you, and this can only be done after a careful review of all the relevant facts.
If you are concerned your partner may be hiding assets, asset stripping, or running up debt speak to us urgently so we can advise you what to do, and if necessary seek a court injunction.
What about Super and Inheritances?
Sometimes, family businesses are involved, or complex Self-Managed Super funds, or Defined Benefit Interests (such as PSS). At other times, inheritances, employee share plans, family trusts or other investments are involved. These are all included in the asset pool so get the right advice from day one so you know the limits of your case.
If the matter is complex and you and your spouse cannot agree, you should consider involving professionals including lawyers, accountants, valuers, and potentially investigators to track all the bank accounts and spending, and provide valuations of assets and to review debts.
In the end, the difference between both parties’ assessment of what is a fair split usually comes down to just a few percentage points and a short, robust, final negotiation. Make sure you know what you are fighting for and why.
Is there a Pre-Nup?
Sometimes there is a pre-nuptial agreement (now called a binding financial agreement or BFA) to take into account. Is it valid? Does it cover spouse maintenance or super? Could it be set aside? We have expertise in pre-nup analysis – we aim to make sure the pre-nup is in fact lawful and binding. If it can be challenged, we can help you to do that.