Regardless of the process option you chose, all follow a similar pathway in determining your future financial settlement. A snapshot of the pathway is set out below.
The first step is to identify what you, your partner and your family owns and owes, including:·
1. Your assets (eg. family home, cars, savings, shares and investments, your business;
2. Your debts (eg. home mortgage, credit cards, or personal loans); and
3. Your superannuation;
Once your assets, debts and superannuation have all been identified, we then move towards determining values. This is commonly referred to as the valuation and financial disclosure process.
The second step is to assess both of your contributions which are of a financial and non-financial nature (eg. your role as homemaker or parent).
Contributions are historical in nature so we take you through each stage of your relationship to establish:
1. What you both owned or owed at the beginning of your relationship;
2. What roles you both had during your relationship. For instance, who earned the income, who cared for the children - perhaps it was a combination of both - or did either of you receive an inheritance?
3. What has occurred since your separation. For instance, who is paying the mortgage, the household bills and the kid's expenses?
The third step is to assess what you both need for the future.
Here, we really need to get to know you, your partner and your family.
We will ask you about your ages and state of health (including ill health that impacts on your ability to earn income and support yourself), the care arrangements for your children and also the incomes that you earn.
Once we have completed all three steps, we will then be able to provide you with legal advice about your financial settlement options.
This legal advice will be based upon the legal principles of "fair" which often do not translate into what is morally fair or fair to you or your family.
That's why it is so important to design your own pathway towards settlement focusing on what is important to you and your family rather than a Court imposing an outcome upon you.