By Penelope Charlesworth, Senior Associate
First – congratulations. Family law separations, at the end of a marriage or a de facto relationship, can be really difficult. The fact that you and your ex have struck a deal between yourselves is a real positive. You have avoided the financial and emotional costs of litigation, and taken control of your own financial circumstances. But now what?
The division of assets, debts and superannuation at the end of a marriage or de facto relationship is referred to as a property settlement. The property settlement does not just deal with the family home or other real estate. Your property settlement may include things like selling a house and distributing sale proceeds, a payment from one of you to the other, one of you stepping out of a company or business, transfer of ownership of cars, superannuation splitting, and the payment of joint debts.
Your property settlement will deal with who keeps what, and any transfers or payments required to achieve the agreed outcome.
There are two ways a property settlement can be finalised and stop either of you coming back for more: Consent Orders or a Financial Agreement. In most cases, Consent Orders are preferred. However your lawyer will advise you which is the better approach for you.
When it comes time to finalise your property settlement by Consent Orders or Financial Agreement, you will need the assistance of a lawyer to draft the required documents to make sure everything is properly covered and the legal requirements are met.
One lawyer can do most of the work, getting the required information and drafting the settlement documents. However, that lawyer will either act for and take instructions from you or your ex – not jointly. One lawyer cannot act for both of you.
It is important that you both have the opportunity to obtain advice about the property settlement and whether it is in your interests. For Consent Orders there is no requirement for you to each receive legal advice, but you do both need lawyers if your property settlement is finalised using a Financial Agreement.
We assist many people when they have already reached agreement with their ex and need to “seal the deal”. We focus on making the process as simple and cost effective as possible, while making sure your interests are covered and the legal requirements are met so you can move on with financial certainty.
We encourage you to reach an agreement directly with your ex if you are comfortable doing that. It is much better to get legal advice before you start those discussions. That way, you have a good idea what a fair deal is for you and things you may need to watch out for before you agree to anything. If you agree to something then change your mind after you get legal advice, it is often hard to get your ex to agree to something different.
Please get in touch, we will be happy to help you.