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VIC Mediation for Financial and Property Settlement?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Virago76, 17 May 2016.

  1. Virago76

    Virago76 Member

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    Hi,

    I'm looking for some help about mediation for a financial and property settlement. I was wondering if anyone has done this and how successful it was.

    My ex and I were able to come to an agreement fairly easily about our son through family mediation but he has very limited knowledge and understanding of finance matters. I was looking to use it mainly to save money but I'm wondering if it will simply prolong the agony. My ex will be relying on his mum completely and any decisions will be made primarily for him by her.

    I'm trying to stay amicable as much as possible for our son but I know that the finances will really test that from my ex's point of view. He has a lot more assets than me and he thinks I'm going to clean him out. I just want what's legally mine and to move on.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    So, I would speak to Legal Aid about organising a dispute resolution conference for the purpose of the property settlement. Legal Aid will usually appoint a lawyer to each of you for the conference, which will be immensely helpful in ensuring any agreement is just and fair.

    Many people find it helpful going into mediation with an understanding of how the Court might approach their situation, so I'll provide the same information for you here. It asks four questions in property matters:
    1. What is the total value of the shared asset pool?
    2. What were the financial and non-financial contributions of each party?
    3. What are the future needs of each party?
    4. Is the settlement just and equitable?
    Step 1 is pretty easy - everything you or he owns has a value, and all of it forms part of the shared asset pool, so what's the total value?

    Now, the step most people really struggle with is Step 2 - financial and non-financial contributions. People tend to assume that they're entitled to more because they've worked while the other party has stayed at home to care for the kids, but the Court will not disadvantage a stay-at-home parent because they made a less financial contribution over the course of the marriage. In the Court's view, being a stay-at-home parent means you have maintained a functioning household so the other parent had the time to go and work.

    With that said, it also may not be an automatic 50/50. If for example, one party had $100,000 in cash savings before marrying and contributed substantially more to the mortgage as a result of those savings, then it's fair to expect the stay-at-home parent might get a bit less in the outcome.

    Step 3, future needs, refers primarily to consideration given to the residency arrangements for the child, or any disabilities, etc. which might require more financial aid moving forward than might be sustainable otherwise. If for example, the child lives with you, then it's likely you'll be granted a bit more in the settlement.

    Step 4 is really for the Court to decide.

    It might be worthwhile considering your circumstances in the same fashion. Also, remember that it's easier to negotiate down than up, so if you are aiming for, as an example, 35/65 settlement, then probably ask for 45/55 to begin with and sort it out from there. Also, be prepared to make some concessions in order to reach an agreement - it's unlikely you'll get everything you want, so decide what you will and won't move on. As an example, you might want to keep living in the marital property, but if it's going to result in him waiting a year or two to actually have his portion bought out, then you might have to accept that selling the house may be the only option.

    And finally, keep things in perspective. It's better to reach an agreement without requiring the Court to decide for you, because even the most menial asset pools can cost upwards of $50,000 to split in Court, and you might end up losing what you hoped to gain in court fees anyway.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Danstar

    Danstar Well-Known Member

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  4. Virago76

    Virago76 Member

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    Thank you both for your very helpful posts. I'd like to think it's an option for myself but will have to wait on my ex to see what he wants.
     

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