In these financially uncertain times, it is important to consider how coronavirus may possibly impact your current or future property settlement. If you are negotiating your property matter, there are a number of things you may want to be mindful of and it is important to understand the possible benefits (or detriments) of proceeding to finalise your matter.
While a lot is yet to be seen and your personal circumstances must be considered in the context of sound legal and financial advice, here are some broad comments around how to best handle your property settlement in the current environment.
For instance, a critical step in any property settlement, whether it be via private negotiations or Family Court proceedings, is ascribing values to the asset pool.
As the economy has taken a downward turn, it is important to consider whether an impacted business needs to be valued or if it has already been valued, if those professional valuations have changed since the outbreak.
Depending on your answer, you may wish to postpone this step if the business’ value has decreased or alternatively, updated valuations may need to be obtained before a just and equitable settlement can be achieved.
This logic also applies to superannuation entitlements. A lot of superannuation entitlements have decreased significantly. This will have bearing on your matter if you are looking at doing a superannuation split and it may be worth postponing your property settlement if a superannuation split is a big part of the property you are dividing.
Again, another type of asset that has been impacted are shares where you may want to consider holding off on resolving your matter if they also play a significant part of the property to be divided.
Although the decreasing value of assets will no doubt be unsettling, shifting values can be a double edged sword. For some, retaining a significantly devalued asset can be beneficial for the overall composition of their property settlement.
Due to the current uncertainty, it may be beneficial to delay resolving your matter until a later period. However, it might make sense to at least start negotiations, whether it be directly or in consultation with a lawyer, so that things can begin progressing at least. If you have agreed as to how you’re going to divide your property, there is nothing stopping you now from finalising that agreement.
It is important that you contact an experienced family lawyer as to how the changing value of assets could affect your entitlements and future financial position. Do not let this situation compromise your current or future wellbeing, take your time and get the right advice.