How to negotiate property settlement
We have compiled a simple list of a few tips to help you negotiate a fair property settlement:
- Step 1 – Disclose all of your financials and expect the same in return.
- Step 2 – Determine what is in the property pool.
- Step 3 – Work out what is fair.
- Step 4 – Find something to bargain with.
- Step 5 – Time your negotiations.
- Step 6 – Reach middle ground and settle.
What’s in the property pool?
Make sure you think of everything that could be included in the property pool. Sometimes, 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.
TIP: You won’t get a successful negotiation without knowing what needs to be divided. Think about superannuation, credit cards, shares and even possible inheritances.
Give them something they can’t get elsewhere
A lawyer can help find things the other party wants – 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.
TIP: Be reasonable, don’t use children or other intangible things to manipulate your former spouse into giving you what you want. This only causes long-term and potentially lifelong problems.
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.
TIP: 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 is nearly impossible. 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.
TIP: Early negotiation and resolution are usually best in most cases to save legal costs however if the other party is still over emotional it might be best to delay.
Finding the middle ground
You can’t have it all, the 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 the advice from professionals and make a commercial decision.
TIP: Use commercial sense here. The TV, fridge, couches etc, usually aren’t worth fighting over. You might win the battle but you will lose the war.