Top 3 Tips for Negotiating a Family Law Property Settlement

9-May-2022 Family Law By Simone Green

Valuing assets such as the family home, businesses or investments is a common source of disagreement among separating couples and a critical first step in determining who gets what in a property settlement. The person wishing to keep a particular asset will generally assert a lower value, and the other will assert a higher value as it effects what they ultimately receive. So what do you do when you can’t agree on the value of an asset? Streeterlaw’s Accredited Specialist in Family Law, Simone Green, provides some practical tips on how to resolve the valuation wars.

1. Consider market opinions first

  • The cheaper and most practical option for determining the value of real estate for instance, is to obtain several market appraisals from well known real estate agents in the local area. Where there is doubt that the person arranging the appraisal may influence its outcome, a common approach is for each person to obtain 2 market appraisals and negotiate an agreed value within the range of the appraisals.
  • For other assets such as cars, look to online services that may provide a general valuation based on make, model and year and general condition for a small fee.
  • For other chattels such as furniture and personal possessions, it may assist to research the going rate for similar items on a second-hand basis and present this to the other party for negotiation on value. For family law purposes, replacement value on insurance policies is not the value adopted.

2. Formal valuation

  • For smaller businesses for example, it may be an option to engage the accountant to provide a valuation.
  • We recommend that before you engage a valuer, you do so as a single expert witness (instructed jointly) so that it can be relied upon, otherwise it may be rejected by the other person and a further joint valuation will be necessary to resolve the issue at greater expense.

3. Follow the Rules

  • Chapter 7 of The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Rules 2021 (‘the Rules’) sets out the legal requirements for instructing a single expert valuer, the form of their Report and how to approach the expert with further questions to clarify the Expert Report. As a joint expert, all instructions must be written and be signed off by both parties, and any answers to questions raised by the valuer must be sighted and approved by the other person.
  • You may engage a Single Expert valuer under the Rules, even if you are not yet in Court. It can be updated as necessary if settlement negotiations are lengthy or if a property Application is ultimately filed with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
  • It is probable that one, if not both people will disagree with the formal valuation but unless there are substantial errors in the Valuation Report (more than just a difference in price between the expert opinion and another valuer obtained by one of the parties), the valuation will generally prevail.

As there are complex legal requirements regarding valuation evidence, we recommend you seek the advice of an expert family lawyer to assist you. Call Streeterlaw today on 02 8197 0105 and speak to our Accredited Specialist team to fully advise and assist you to resolve your family law disputes.

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