Many separating couples are now facing the effects of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) with some seeing half of their wealth eroded by declining property values and sharemarket falls, the Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Queensland (FLPA) warned today.
FLPA president Deborah Awyzio said family law practitioners were constantly obtaining valuation updates to keep abreast of their clients’ fluctuating asset pools.
Ms Awyzio said in many cases it was important for separating couples to speak to their family lawyers about the option of settling sooner even if it meant they received less than their desired outcome, so they avoided the possibility of a falling market and the consequent ‘lost opportunity cost’.
“Generally, experts would complete a valuation report early in a family law matter and then again close to trial,” she said.
“In a falling market, these valuations must be revisited more regularly, so both parties and their lawyers can keep tabs on the size of the asset pool, ultimately costing the client more money.
“Separating couples who recognise that having a property settlement dispute determined by the courts can mean ‘paying more to get less’ should take advice from their family lawyers about out-of-court solutions, such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative law, as they can often offer resolution more quickly than the court process.
“For those who are entrenched in the court system, they should ask their family lawyers to help them view their family law property settlements like a commercial transaction, weighing whether they are better to compromise to have their entitlement paid to them today, or risk the consequences of the delay involved in litigation.”
Ms Awyzio said some heavily-geared separating couples were experiencing the added pressure from lenders demanding clients reduce debt and/or offer alternative security to remain within lending guidelines, even during their negotiations or litigation.
“For those separating couples lucky enough to strike a property deal, their banks are often refusing to assist by not advancing them the funds to ‘pay out’ a former spouse or refinance,” she said.
For further information, please contact:
Merrett Pye on 0422 096 049 or Caroline Thurlow on 0414 565 575
The Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Queensland is the leading professional association for the family law sector in Queensland.