Show Me The Money! The Only Way To Mediate Property Settlement.

When couples separate, there are financial issues which need to be discussed and resolved. Usually issues regarding payment of expenses, income and property. Some are urgent and need immediate attention and others are longer term decisions about how to separate the financial arrangements on a permanent and final basis. Making these decisions can be emotionally draining and complex. This is where the mediation process can prove extremely helpful and mutually beneficial. Negotiating property and financial matters can be stressful and overwhelming especially where there are short term financial pressures to pay bills and conflict about how to fairly distribute any assets. It can even be distressing if the other person has been in control of the finances and you feel in the dark.

Here are some things to think about to prepare yourself for the mediation process regarding money.

  1. Make a list of all your bills that are coming up.
  2. Even if you can’t prepare a cashflow of your family and personal expenses and when they fall due just make a list of all the expenses you know about on an annual, monthly and weekly basis. Mediation can address the urgent issues first so that everyone has peace of mind to focus on the long term division of the property.
  3. Identifying what is included in the property pool.

Property of a relationship will include:

All assets (things you own) held by you and your former partner in joint or separate names such as:

  • Family home, holiday home or rental properties
  • Investments like shares and companies
  • Cars and boats
  • Furniture and household effects from stereos to cups and saucers that you want to keep
  • Personal items like jewellery and musical instruments that you want to keep.

All assets in your own or your former partner’s control such as:

  • any business, company or trust
  • superannuation
  • a share in an extended family business or investment property.

All debts in joint or separate names such as:

  • mortgage debts
  • credit cards
  • hire purchase agreements.

It needs to include everything including any property held in your own name prior to entering into the relationship, or property you have acquired since separation.

Negotiating the division of the pool by way of a property agreement.

The best way to divide your assets is through a mutually negotiated property agreement in mediation. This allows you to be part of the decision making process and helps to minimise the cost of lawyers and avoid a negative outcome through court. It will be much quicker and less emotional for you and your children, helping you to move on quickly with less to deal with.

Think about your main concerns and wishes about your property division, consider who has contributed what to your property and life together and your personal future financial needs right now and tomorrow for you and any children. Your mediator will ask you questions about your financial circumstances and financial needs. You will need to prepare for the joint session of mediation to resolve your property agreement. You may wish to break it into separate parts or deal with everything on the one day. How that is done will be designed by you with the mediator. The preparation will involve further gathering of information, exchanging documentations and starting to weigh up your options before the joint session.

Formalising the agreement to achieve a property settlement.

Once you have agreed on how the expenses are to be paid and a property settlement it is still the law to have the financial agreement legally formalised. It is not generally possible to change your mind and seek a different property agreement once it is done and dusted. Once you are satisfied with the outcome, you can sign the financial agreement as a Deed or file the documents with the Court if you are signing Consent Orders. This is the milestone to moving forward.

Reaching a mutually agreeable property settlement should be your main aim when you attend mediation. Approaching your mediation with an open mind and an attitude of willingness to reach an agreement will assist the process of settlement to progress with as little angst or as few roadblocks as possible. No one wants the issues of a financial arrangement to be more difficult or emotional than it already is, so with preparation, co-operation and some thought concerning your part in the process it will go a long way towards reaching the agreement which is mutually beneficial and helpful in moving forward without Court.

Is it time to get creative about how you mediate your money disputes?
Contact SHAW Mediation and let’s talk about how we can help you.

Shaw Mediation Services

Level 36 Riparian Plaza
71 Eagle Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
Phone: 1300 768 496
mediate@shawmediation.com.au

Level 30/91 King William Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: 1300 768 496
mediate@shawmediation.com.au

Level 26, 44 Market St
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 1300 768 496
mediate@shawmediation.com.au

COLLECT WHAT YOU CAN BEFORE YOU LEAVE

We sometimes leave relationships and the family home because we have to, because we have no choice. This decision is never made lightly and is often fraught with fear, urgency and some panic. Before you leave for good, there are some extra things you will need to gather up before leaving: financial records.

When the time comes to formerly end the marriage you will need to complete a financial statement in order to divide the property between you and your ex partner. This statement requires that you declare your assets and liabilities. When you view what your ex partner has recorded on the financial statement they have submitted, you should undertake to prove that it is correct. To do this you want to have to hand third party documentation to prove, for example, that the assets (savings and investment bank accounts, superannuation accounts, share certificates etc) and liabilities (credit cards, loan accounts, debts to third parties) actually existed during the marriage.

What could happen is that your ex partner may attempt to diminish the amount of assets they have and increase the amount of liabilities. You want to be able to prove all the asset accounts held during the marriage have been disclosed, so prior to leaving the family home you want to be able to collect as much supporting evidence as possible to prove what was held. You can always ask your ex partner through their lawyer later on for statements proving current balances but you need to have a good idea of what assets and liabilities exist because parties are not above hiding things or telling untruths when it comes to money. When disclosing liabilities some ex’s may claim loans extended by family or friends. This is a common tactic and having some proof to refute the claim is dynamite. Let’s says your ex partner was given a large gift of money by a parent for their birthday, if you had a birthday card or some type of note reflecting the giving of this gift, that would be proof the claim of the money as a loan was incorrect.

Before you leave the family home, take stock of what you will need in terms of financial records to prove all assets and liabilities. If you cannot remove the documents, then you can either photocopy them or scan them onto a USB stick. Remember…think strategically.

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My name is Elizabeth Camillo and I am a forensic accountant specialising in family law. My role in your divorce is to value the family business, to prove the truth of the financial statement provided by your ex partner and to investigate any suspicions you may have relating to your partner hiding or devaluing assets purchased with your martial money.

If you hold concerns about the lack of honesty displayed by your ex partner and their failure to disclose their use of family money, I am able to provide you with some solutions to identify what has occurred.

My passion for financial investigations stems from my own experience with divorce. As a child I grew up in a divorced household knowing that financial pressures impact upon our happiness. It was a day-to-day worry that we never escaped from.

Call me on 0401662727 or at Elizabeth@ecamillo.com.au to arrange a consultation to discuss the financials in your family law matter.