Here are a few tips about property issues which may help as you start to think about dividing it up.
- Keep as much of the personal property as you can. The cost of replacing personal property will always vastly exceed it’s ‘value’ in the family law calculations (which is second hand auction value). For example, a brand new fridge will cost you $1,500 but your current fridge will only be worth $500 if you auction it.
- It is often best if you get matters settled as soon as possible after a separation. It allows both people to move on. That said, be careful of making a settlement if you feel guilty or responsible for the relationship breaking down. You don’t need your guilt weighing in!
- There are lots of ways of splitting personal property (furniture, artworks, cookware etc). Our favourite is the “Mexican standoff” where one party submits two lists of the property and the other selects which list they prefer. Another method is “coloured spots” where each party has a box of coloured sticky spots and you take turns to put a spot on an item of property until every item has your, or their colour on it. At the end of the day, any thing with your colour is yours, anything with their colour is theirs.
- Get financial advice about how realistic your proposals are. You may really want to keep the family home, but if you don’t have the income to pay off the mortgage, it may not be practical for you to do so. Even if you can pay off the house with your income after the split, how much will be left over for you to live on?
- You may want to stay in the home but can’t afford it now. See if you can agree that the property will be sold at some time in the future with you receiving a lower percentage of that sale than you might be entitled to if it took place straight away. For example, you might agree with your ex that you will keep the house until the youngest child turns 18 and then sell it, but instead of getting 40% of the profit now, you might get 30 % in five years to offset your use of the property over those years.
- Make sure you get legal advice if there is a danger that your ex might dispose of an asset you might not be able to get back.
- Don’t think you can remove property from the distribution by transferring it out of your name or ‘giving’ it to another person. The court has the power to slice right through these sorts of manoeuvres.