Property Matters – Financial Settlements and Disputes
Once you have separated from your partner you will require legal advice in relation to the process of dividing your assets.
We have a number of different approaches to assisting client’s to resolve disputes regarding property matters following a separation, and in reaching agreement. These include mediation (with an independent third party who can assist you by facilitating discussions to reach agreement), collaborative law (where the parties and their lawyers agree to a series of “four way meetings” and sign a contract that they will not litigate), by direct negotiation (between lawyers by way of correspondence, or direct discussions via a conference), or by way of litigation through the Court process.
Our advice will depend upon the particular circumstances of your case and will be tailored by your specific needs and that of your family. We take a commercial and commonsense approach to such matters, to ensure that your desired outcome is achieved.
We have access to professionals within our firm practising in other areas which regularly impact on family law matters and which include commercial, trust, taxation, bankruptcy, Wills and Estates, and financial planning. This breadth of service is not available in other boutique firms.
The Court’s approach to dividing matrimonial assets
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) the Court has a wide discretion to make property orders that are just and equitable between the parties and in the circumstances of each particular case. In exercising that discretion, the Court adopts a four (4) step process:-
The first task for a Trial Judge when determining an appropriate division of property is to identify the property of the parties. For the purposes of this assessment superannuation is deemed to be property and such interests are able to be divided between parties. The Family Court values all assets as at the date of trial less any arm’s length liabilities.
The second step is for the Court to examine the various contributions made by each party to the acquisition, conservation or improvement of matrimonial property. In making their assessment the Trial Judge will recognise both financial and non-financial contributions, including those contributions made by a homemaker or parent.
The third step undertaken by the Court is to consider both parties respective future needs, taking into account your respective financial positions, earning capacities, whether either party has the care of a child and any other factors or circumstances which should be taken into account.
Finally the Court will consider whether the proposed adjustment of assets is just and equitable as between the parties.
Our team can assist you by providing detailed advices as to your property settlement entitlements, and will assist you in attempting to negotiate a commercial outcome. In the event that your matter cannot be resolved by agreement, or by mediation or collaborative law, our specialist lawyers will assist you in the litigation process.