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  • Writer's pictureEvan Sarinas

Top Winning Strategies for Family Law Property Settlements

Seeking early legal advice is crucial following a relationship/family breakdown and can ensure you have peace of mind and realistic expectations during a time that can be very emotional, unsettling and stressful.


In this article, we provide insights into some of the key strategies we use for a successful property law settlement.


Table of Contents



 

Step 1: Identify and Value the Property Pool

 

It is vitally important to understand the total value of the property pool of the relationship and how the wealth was generated.

 

This requires analysis of all assets, liabilities, financial resources and superannuation benefits (whether in sole names or joint names) at 2 points in time – when the relationship commences and when the relationship ended.

 

See, for example, the Balance Sheet available on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website: https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/fl/forms/balance-sheet 

 

If the parties are not in agreement on values, or there are suspicions that assets have been hidden, wasted or disposed of, then the process may necessitate engaging a forensic investigation.

 

This will include engaging valuers and forensic accountants, as required depending on the nature of the property pool. If an asset has been wasted or disposed of, then the expert will provide a notional value of the asset and it will be added back into property pool.

 

If there is agreement on value, then the process is likely to be more amicable and less expensive.

 

Our advice is to be prepared to give and take during the process. This will result in a more pragmatic and cost-effective resolution of the matter, and will inevitably result in less stress for you.

 

Importantly, there is a requirement to be reasonable and fair-minded in these proceedings.

It is a poor strategy, destined for failure and unnecessary expense, if your focus is simply to “score points” against the other side along the way. Instead, we recommend that you remain focused on the bigger picture instead.

 

Step 2: Consider the Parties’ Contributions and Future Factor Considerations

 

After the initial financial analysis of the property pool, we undertake detailed legal consideration into what percentage a Court might award. This involves considering various issues, such as:

 

  1. The direct and indirect financial contributions of the parties at the commencement of the relationship, during the relationship and after separation;

  2. The non-financial contributions of the parties, during the course of the relationship, such as renovations to the family home, financial gifts from family members, caring for children and the like;

  3. Homemaker and Welfare Contributions towards the family, such as periods of time where one party might have ceased working or reduced their working capacity to care for children of the relationship;

  4. Future needs of the parties, having consideration to issues such as their ages, health conditions, financial commitments, capacity for employment, child support commitments, standards of reasonable living, income, property and financial resources available to each party (this list is not exhaustive).

 

 

Every relationship is unique; however considering previous case law is essential to applying the numerous considerations espoused in the Family Law Act 1975 and ensuring that the result is fair and equitable in all of the circumstances.

 

Step 3: Strategic Negotiation and Case Management

 

Once we assessed the likely percentages for each party’s entitlements, it’s time to attempt to resolve the matter,

 

When formulating an offer to settle, it is crucial to leave sufficient room to negotiate, as it is unlikely that your first offer will be accepted.

 

This is where you need to discern what property is important to you.

 

Squabbling over minor matters is unproductive and can lead to unnecessary legal fees, stress and delay for your case.

 

If there is no compromise by the other side, or if it is clear that the other side has overestimated their worth, then you will need to make some calculated decisions.

 

One strategy might be to proceed to litigation, to let the Judge decide.

 

This step forces the other side to seriously consider their position because there might be costs consequences for pressing on with an unmeritorious case. Usually, each party bears their own costs, but we have been successful in having the other side pay our client’s legal costs in several cases because we have set them up with a serious of strategic offers that we have beaten at trial.

 

Conclusion

 

Family law can be complex and often acrimonious without the benefit of pragmatic legal advice and the opportunity to make clear-headed decisions.

 

Achieving the best outcome requires the correct strategy and the right family lawyer for your needs and objectives.

 

Contact us today, to obtain confidential, personalised and clear advice about your unique situation and ensure a seamless and stress-free pathway for your property settlement and to protect your interests.


Our experienced and trusted Family Lawyers in Townsville will educate and empower you to understand the process of separation and how we can navigate you through the process swiftly and successfully.

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