The Property Split-up
So you are separating, and the time has come to do the property split-up. You will have to sit down, together, and split-up all the things you acquired as a couple, all the little momentos of your life together. Easily done if the whole process wasn’t soaked with all the emotion’s that go hand in hand with the end of a significant relationship.
The property split-up can be one of the hardest parts of a separation. Along with the almost inevitable feeling of the whole process being cold and clinical there are practical reasons why a property split-up is a fairly unpleasant process. Dividing one into two may mean less for each of you than you may have thought or planned for. For one or even both of you the property split up can be the first tangible proof that the relationship really is over. And deciding who gets what, and who needs what, is often more complicated than you might think.
Thankfully there are simple rules and simple steps you can follow to keep the whole process as straightforward and as painless as possible. Here are five that might make it a little easier.
1: Needs Not Revenge.
In any property split up you need to start with an idea of what is most important to you. For example, keeping the kids in the same school or in the same house. Continuing to work part-time so you can be there for the kids. Making sure both of you have a place suitable for the kids to live in, or both of you have enough to continue to have a life you want to live – they are all things people worry about when it comes time for the property split up.
If you go in to a property split up with a clear idea of what you want it helps to focus the process and helps to make sure you get what need out of it. On the other hand if you go into it without a clear idea it is very easy to be pulled off track and get drawn into the idea of property as revenge.
2: Negotiate Don’t Litigate.
If you choose to mediate or collaborate your property split you retain control of the process. Negotiating your property split means you get to focus on what is important to you not what is seen as important by the lawyers or by the Judge. A perfect example of this is fur babies. To a Judge pets are just property, whereas for some people losing access to a pet is like losing access to a child.
If you choose to litigate rather than negotiate, no matter what you’ve seen on TV, you probably won’t get to stand up in court and make a speech about what is important to you. Your lawyer will speak on your behalf and the Judge will decide what happens based on a set of guidelines. A good lawyer will try to take your wishes into account, but in a courtroom what is all important is the process and that will override everything else.
3: It Aint a 50/50 Proposition.
Although the process starts with the idea of a 50/50 split it rarely end’s up there. What is given more weight is future needs. The whole property split-up process is designed to make sure each of you has a fair enough share of your assets to cater for your needs in to the future. This is why it is crucial that you go in to the process with a clear idea of what is really important to you and what you need for your future.
A lot of lawyers will give a percentage you can expect but the downside of that is it tends to make people positional and to focus on getting that percentage no matter what. If it doesn’t work out that way in the end you can feel like you are losing out and your ex is winning. But focusing on percentages loses the idea of what you really need. You may end up with a specific percentage but not have a home to live in or not have enough money for your future.
4: “Its Not Personal, Just Business”
It’s easier said than done with a split up but if you can keep it as business and don’t get personal the whole thing will be over quicker and you will get a better outcome. Trying to be impartial and focusing on your needs helps to make the process smoother and a lot less stressful. Because we all know that getting in to a huge argument with your ex where all perspective is lost is not going to help anyone in the long run.
This is the advantage of engaging a professional mediator or collaborative lawyer. Having an impartial guide who is not emotionally involved in the whole process means you can stand back a little and let them guide your interactions and your negotiations. Being impartial also means they can make sure your overall aims aren’t lost in the negotiation process.
We have all had the awkward pay rise conversation with a boss and we all hate it. Think of a mediator or collaborative lawyer as a personal manager guiding you through the uncomfortable bits and keeping you on track.
One of the most contentious topics when people come to do their property split up is superannuation. It is not uncommon – especially for people with children – for two people in a relationship to have very different super balances. If one person has quit work to raise the kids or gone part-time their super balance will obviously reflect their lower income.
Under current laws superannuation can only be split between traditionally married couples – a potential problem for anyone in a defacto relationship. That doesn’t mean superannuation will be completely ignored for defacto couples but if your ex has all the super the law isn’t on your side.
In mediation or collaboration all options remain on the table. If you choose to negotiate rather than going to court your assets can be divided to compensate for different super balances. That compensation may be in cash which can be put in to super to boost a balance or in a greater share of other existing assets or the sale of those assets. It’s a chance to think outside the box to solve your unique circumstances.
For help with your separation or parenting issues call BrightSide
Susan Hewitt is the Principal at Bright Side Family Law, a non-litigious family law and mediation practice. Susan has worked as a lawyer and journalist for almost 30 years. She is an accredited collaborative lawyer and family-law mediator who is committed to helping families through their relationship breakdown in an honest, cooperative and respectful manner.
If you are facing a family law matter call or email Bright Side https://brightsidefamilylaw.com.au/contact-us/