Working out your property
If it is safe to do so, you and your former spouse can reach your own agreement, which can save you both time, money and avoid the stress of a lengthy court process. There are many ways to come to your own agreement however, for most people, there will be one or two sticky issues that need your attention before you can move on to an agreement.
Property mediation can be a way that you can come together to work out how your financial arrangements may look like with the help of a neutral third party to guide you, if you cannot agree on some issues.
Property mediation is often a more cost-effective and efficient way to clarify your concerns and resolve your issues in a facilitated and safe space, guided by a mediator who is skilled and knowledgeable, and guide your discussions productively.
If you cannot reach an agreement after going through property mediation, you can apply to the Family Court for a judge to make a decision for you. However, going to court is expensive, time-consuming and may not result in a decision that either of you agree with. It is recommended that you seek legal advice for your individual situation.
How does property mediation help?
Property mediation can assist separating couples to work out their property and financial settlement. A skilled, neutral mediator will provide a confidential and voluntary process. This requires both parties to be willing to participate and to agree to provide full and frank financial disclosure to each other.
The mediator will help you to identify and evaluate both your assets, determine both your contributions, (this can be whether you have taken a paid role or an unpaid caring role), identify both your needs and outcomes, and help you negotiate and agree on how to divide your assets.
When can we start?
You can start property mediation process at any time after you have made the decision to separate.
However, there are time limits that apply if you are unable to reach agreement, and decide to apply to court:
Within 12 months of a divorce for married couples
Within two years of the relationship ending for de facto couples
What is considered property?
Property includes all assets and debts owned by both people, whether it is in both names, or just one person’s name. Property may include:
- The family home
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Family trusts
- Debts including mortgages, loans, credit cards and personal debts.
How is mediation different from using lawyers?
Mediation for property settlement can be a more cost effective and less adversarial way for people to come to an agreement regarding their finances and property division after separation. Even if parties do not reach a final agreement, much of the preparation work that our mediators will ask you to do is required by lawyers during a financial settlement process, so you may be better prepared for legal negotiations after going through the mediation process.
If you feel that you are being coerced, feel that you are at risk, are experiencing pressure to make decisions you are uncomfortable with or are feeling unsafe, property mediation may not be suitable for you and it is important that you seek support.
You must let your mediator know if you have any concerns about your physical or emotional safety, so they can take steps to assess the situation and ensure you are safe and feeling confident to participate in the FDR process, or if they can refer you to the appropriate support.
Family violence support
If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, you can get help and support. See Family violence – finding help and support or visit the Family Violence Law Help website, which provides information about domestic and family violence and the law in Australia.
If you are in immediate danger, call 000