When couples separate, there are financial issues which need to be discussed and resolved. Usually issues regarding payment of expenses, income and property. Some are urgent and need immediate attention and others are longer term decisions about how to separate the financial arrangements on a permanent and final basis. Making these decisions can be emotionally draining and complex. This is where the mediation process can prove extremely helpful and mutually beneficial. Negotiating property and financial matters can be stressful and overwhelming especially where there are short term financial pressures to pay bills and conflict about how to fairly distribute any assets. It can even be distressing if the other person has been in control of the finances and you feel in the dark.
Here are some things to think about to prepare yourself for the mediation process regarding money.
- Make a list of all your bills that are coming up.
- Even if you can’t prepare a cashflow of your family and personal expenses and when they fall due just make a list of all the expenses you know about on an annual, monthly and weekly basis. Mediation can address the urgent issues first so that everyone has peace of mind to focus on the long term division of the property.
- Identifying what is included in the property pool.
Property of a relationship will include:
All assets (things you own) held by you and your former partner in joint or separate names such as:
- Family home, holiday home or rental properties
- Investments like shares and companies
- Cars and boats
- Furniture and household effects from stereos to cups and saucers that you want to keep
- Personal items like jewellery and musical instruments that you want to keep.
All assets in your own or your former partner’s control such as:
- any business, company or trust
- a share in an extended family business or investment property.
All debts in joint or separate names such as:
- mortgage debts
- credit cards
- hire purchase agreements.
It needs to include everything including any property held in your own name prior to entering into the relationship, or property you have acquired since separation.
Negotiating the division of the pool by way of a property agreement.
The best way to divide your assets is through a mutually negotiated property agreement in mediation. This allows you to be part of the decision making process and helps to minimise the cost of lawyers and avoid a negative outcome through court. It will be much quicker and less emotional for you and your children, helping you to move on quickly with less to deal with.
Think about your main concerns and wishes about your property division, consider who has contributed what to your property and life together and your personal future financial needs right now and tomorrow for you and any children. Your mediator will ask you questions about your financial circumstances and financial needs. You will need to prepare for the joint session of mediation to resolve your property agreement. You may wish to break it into separate parts or deal with everything on the one day. How that is done will be designed by you with the mediator. The preparation will involve further gathering of information, exchanging documentations and starting to weigh up your options before the joint session.
Formalising the agreement to achieve a property settlement.
Once you have agreed on how the expenses are to be paid and a property settlement it is still the law to have the financial agreement legally formalised. It is not generally possible to change your mind and seek a different property agreement once it is done and dusted. Once you are satisfied with the outcome, you can sign the financial agreement as a Deed or file the documents with the Court if you are signing Consent Orders. This is the milestone to moving forward.
Reaching a mutually agreeable property settlement should be your main aim when you attend mediation. Approaching your mediation with an open mind and an attitude of willingness to reach an agreement will assist the process of settlement to progress with as little angst or as few roadblocks as possible. No one wants the issues of a financial arrangement to be more difficult or emotional than it already is, so with preparation, co-operation and some thought concerning your part in the process it will go a long way towards reaching the agreement which is mutually beneficial and helpful in moving forward without Court.
Is it time to get creative about how you mediate your money disputes? Contact SHAW Mediation and let’s talk about how we can help you.