Property Settlements in an Uncertain Time

With the current Coronavirus pandemic causing chaos on a global scale, separated parties across Australia are now facing the question of how to proceed with their property settlement. COVID-19 has affected us all, both socially and economically, and despite the Australian Government imposing unprecedented measures to stop the spread and keep our economy going, if you are in the midst of negotiating a property settlement with your ex-partner, there are a number of considerations to be taken into account. Robert Wood and Associates are the property settlement lawyers Melbourne couples turn to for expert legal advice. In such a challenging time, unresolved conflict or a lack of clarity regarding your financial future can make a difficult situation even worse. Here’s a few things to consider that will help you move forward with your settlement.

Re-Look at Your Asset Pool

There’s no doubting the market, either property or shares, has been affected by the current pandemic. What the ultimate impact will be is something no-one knows. If you have been negotiating a property settlement with your ex-partner, you may find that the evolving impact of this health crisis has changed the asset pool available for division.

Business Valuations – Generally, businesses are valued on a market value basis meaning your current business valuation may be out of date, even if it was only recently prepared. Even valuations prepared as recently as January this year may no longer be appropriate for use in property settlements as changes in the economy may have made them inaccurate. Consider obtaining updated valuation(s) to factor in the current and ongoing impact on business profitability and sustainability.

Real Estate – As with business valuations, the value of real estate may also be affected by changes in the economy. If you had anticipated that the settlement would result in the sale of property, you may also want to consider whether you can hold onto it as a part of your overall settlement. The practical impact of the current restrictions with auctions being suspended and home opens being replaced by private or virtual inspections may extend the period of time it takes to sell a property. It would also be wise to consider obtaining updated real estate appraisals and/or valuations.

Superannuation and Shares – The share market has taken a battering over the last few weeks and in turn, this may affect any proposal dealing with superannuation. As a result, offers containing superannuation splits, the sale of shares or the transfer of shares may need to be reviewed and reconsidered. You should obtain updated superannuation member entitlements and share prices to ensure your asset pool is up to date. It may be appropriate to negotiate a superannuation split based on a percentage division rather than a dollar amount.

Now is the Time to Consider Mediation

It is inevitable that there will be long delays in the already under-resourced Family Court, and while the extent of delays is unclear, what is clear is that now more than ever separated couples should be seeking to achieve a mediated outcome. With the Family Court now closed for everything but emergency matters, mediation can still be facilitated via online platforms and teleconferencing. Mediation will save both parties time and money as it is possible to organise and attend mediation much quicker than getting to trial and without the cost. With a great deal of uncertainty surrounding global markets and the unknown economic impact of this pandemic, now is a good time to avoid going to court, if you can.

In this unprecedented and challenging environment, it is more important than ever to seek the advice from specialised property settlement lawyers to help you develop a clear strategy and help you move towards a resolution in these uncertain times. For expert legal advice tailored to your unique circumstances, get in touch with the team at Robert Wood and Associates today on (03) 9762 3877 or enquire online.

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