1. Not getting advice EARLY
I understand that people may not want to “get lawyers involved” after separation. Honestly though, this is often a big mistake. How can you negotiate a settlement if you do not understand how the Family Law system works, or the specifics of how superannuation is treated?
Most firms offer an initial appointment, with no obligation to continue as a client. I strongly recommend that everyone seek legal advice in relation to their entitlements before negotiating with their former partner or spouse.
We are here to help, and our legal knowledge is a valuable resource that can make this very difficult time easier for you.
2. Going in “too low”
If there is anything that countless mediations have taught me, it is that there are different styles of negotiations. When formulating a settlement offer, you need to strike that perfect balance between giving yourself some further room to move, and not making an offer so low that you lose all credibility.
Get legal advice, and make an offer that is based within the realm of possible outcomes should the matter proceed through the Family Court.
3. Not knowing the value of your asset pool
The first step in property settlement negotiations is working out how much the asset pool is worth. If there is an argument about how much the house is work, for example, get a valuation. Pick a valuer and get your former partner/spouse to agree to the valuer performing the valuation, otherwise there’s no obligation to accept it. Repeat this process for all assets in respect of which there is a disagreement
4. Not documenting the agreement properly
Unless your agreement is properly documented by way of an Application and Minute of Consent Orders (which is subsequently submitted to the Family Court) OR by way of a Financial Agreement pursuant to the Family Law Act (note that both parties must have a lawyer and receive legal advice prior to signing), the Agreement will not be binding, nor will it necessarily be legally recognised. If you are going to go to the effort of reaching an agreement, take that extra step to have it properly formalised.