Steps in the settlement process

Steps in the settlement process

When family law matters progress efficiently and cost-effectively, they tend to follow particular steps in a particular order. Sometimes, problems can be associated with skipping steps or changing the order of steps.

The steps in efficient matters tend to be:

  1. both parties obtain advice from two separate (and, hopefully sensible) solicitors – this means that both parties gain a reasonable understanding of what they can reasonably expect and a reasonable understanding of common mistakes to be avoided and these things make reaching a resolution much easier;
  2. both parties provide details of their respective financial circumstances in a reliable form – this allows both parties to prepare calculations of net assets available for distribution, allows both parties to obtain proper advice and avoids the common problem of discovering that a property settlement agreement is not as good as it seemed before proper information was provided;
  3. each of the parties meet with respective solicitors to examine calculations of net assets available for distribution (made possible by the second step), to receive advice (turning earlier overall percentage advice into dollars) and to work through all those considerations (relating to stamp duty, accrued CGT liabilities, other tax issues, practical issues, finance issues, indemnities, joint accounts, credit issues, parenting, child support, maintenance, updating, checking, personal items, super issues, SMSF issues, trustee obligations, double-checking,…) relevant to making a proposal;
  4. proposals;
  5. settlement

In less efficient matters, a number of additional steps may be involved.

The most common problems associated with changing the order of the steps listed above include making a proposal that does not take account of some important consideration or is based on inaccurate of out-of-date figures and/or realising that a deal agreed earlier is not as good as it seemed before further information was obtained. These problems can lead to important difficulties and to loss of the level of cooperation that can mean the difference between an efficient, cost-effective matter and a difficult, expensive one. See Cooperation.