When it comes to family law matters, none of us really want to go to court. Unfortunately when a couple separates, dividing up the property assets acquired either jointly or separately during the relationship can prove to be a conflict-riddled process that often ends in costly, time-consuming litigation.
In many cases these days, separating couples must first try the mediation process to try and come to a property settlement on their own, without need of court action. Mediation is more affordable, often faster, and allows for a more collaborative approach between ex-couples in a more informal setting to try and resolve their dispute.
One of the keys to a successful mediation property matter is preparation. Understanding the detail of what the assets and liabilities between you are, the options for splitting them up, and how mediation can achieve this result, is vital. Our Sydney meditation lawyers can help you get the best out of mediation for property settlement by checking off some of the things detailed in the rest of this article.
The to-do list for a property settlement mediation
It’s important to understand upfront that mediation involves compromise. Neither party should expect to get every single thing they want but through discussion and negotiation, they can achieve an agreement they can both be satisfied with. The key to successful mediation on a property settlement is ensuring you come to the meeting prepared.
Firstly,a duty the parties to a mediation property matter need to meet their assets and liabilities before or at the meeting. Failure to so could see the Family Court invalidate any agreement reached through mediation. Disclosing assets and liabilities should cover such things as:
· Your income or earnings;
· current superannuation amount;
· valuation details of any trusts, companies or businesses in which you have an interest;
· information on property you sold both in the year before and since you separated from your former partner;
· appraisals or valuations of any real estate assets you currently hold;
· estimates of the values of vehicles you own.
In some cases, former partners may not know what assets the other party holds but it is always helpful to know ahead of the mediation process in order to be ready for a possible negotiated settlement.
This may require doing some due diligence through online databases on land ownership, company registration and professional associations in order to assess the former partner’s assets, income and income-earning capacity.
Our Sydney mediation experts then suggest you compile both your assets and liabilities, and those of your former partner (as you understand them) in two comparative lists so that you can identify before the mediation where significant differences exist.
Have property settlement options in mind
Part of good preparation for an effective property mediation is having an idea of what you’ll be happy with as a settlement before you begin the process. The advice of an experienced lawyer and/or financial adviser can prove invaluable in working out what assets from the former relationship you need in order to move forward with your life. Perhaps you wish to keep the family home but need to refinance the mortgage over it and pay out your former partner. Or perhaps you both wish to sell up and start afresh. Family law mediation helps clarify and prioritise these issues so a negotiated settlement that is equitable to both parties can be reached.
Our mediation team at Mediations Australia can help answer all your questions on the mediation process – how it works, what to expect, and how to prepare. Our specialist practitioners in family law mediation will help you realise the real benefits of this form of dispute resolution.