5 secrets from a family lawyer on how to get the best outcome in a property settlement

Depending on the size of the asset pool and your ex’s cooperation, a judge working out how property will be split is usually not going to be a great outcome for either party. The best outcome is often achieved by a negotiated settlement with the assistance of an experienced family lawyer and this avoids the cost and uncertainty of court orders. We have compiled a simple list of a few tips to help you achieve a fair property settlement.

What’s in the property pool?

Hiring experts on a joint basis helps to value assets in the property pool so your family lawyer can better negotiate your entitlements. Liabilities should be thought of too, so getting an accountant on board can help you work out tax implications. You won’t get a successful negotiation without knowing what needs to be divided.

Give them something they can’t get elsewhere

Use financial experts to your advantage to help find things that they want – and won’t possibly get in court. This could be timing sales of property, structuring super splits in certain ways or transferring assets from companies and trusts. Putting these things on the table can help you line your own pockets from money that might have otherwise gone elsewhere.

Disclose quickly and don’t hold back

Muddying your figures or delaying disclosure is likely to make your ex’s lawyer think you are trying to hide something even if you are not. To reach a negotiated settlement, make sure you are open with your family lawyer and ex and provide copies of all relevant documents and information. Trying to delay or confuse your ex will probably lead to them asking for more information and potentially push the matter to court.

Time your negotiations to your best advantage

Timing is everything. If your ex holds grudges they might not budge in a negotiation. Additionally, if you’ve committed an act of infidelity or possibly made the choice to end the relationship you might be more inclined to give more than what you probably should. In these cases, try to negotiate when emotions have failed. However, if your ex is the one that strayed or ended the relationship – you might be able to capitalise on their guilt by starting negotiations early.

Finding the middle ground

You can’t have it all, fact is settlements only happen when both sides give up something.  Before making any decisions try to do a cost/benefit analysis. Your lawyer should be able to advise you about alternative outcomes if you fail to reach a deal. At the end of the day, you should approach the property settlement as you would any other commercial transaction. Use advice from professionals and make a commercial decision.