When a couple undertakes a family law property settlement after separation or divorce, assets and finances are divided for achieving fair and equitable outcomes. Every case is different, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ system for resolving conflicts. However, full disclosure by both parties regarding bank accounts and other financial interests is essential, with any form of purposeful deception punishable by law.
Does property settlement include all bank accounts?
There is no denying that untangling financial affairs can be stressful, but it’s important to remain focussed on long-term outcomes. Prior to signing-off on a property settlement agreement, due diligence is required to ascertain an accurate picture of assets and liabilities, including any money held in bank accounts.
Your property settlement will include money in all bank accounts held by you and your ex-spouse or partner. This includes bank accounts solely in one name along with shared accounts in both names. An overall picture of finances and other assets is required before a workable property settlement agreement can be reached. Agreement can be achieved in several ways.
- You and your ex-spouse or partner divide assets and separate on fair terms, without any legal involvement.
- Agreed-upon arrangements are formalised in the presence of a family lawyer and can include binding consent orders from the Family Court.
- Agreement can’t be reached with your ex, resulting in application to Court for financial orders, property orders, spousal maintenance and other orders.
What should you do when you first separate?
It pays not to be naïve during family law property settlements involving finances and bank accounts. Not everyone acts honourably, and it’s no surprise that some people try to hide money, drain bank accounts or misrepresent their true financial position. Here are some factors worth considering.
Be transparent with bank accounts: Relationships often break down due to trust issues, and hiding money will certainly exacerbate the situation. Transparency is key to successful financial negotiations, assisting you to avoid lengthy courtroom battles and the possibility of criminal charges being laid if you misrepresent your true wealth.
Seek legal advice as soon as possible: Many living costs basically double for a person once they separate from their partner, so holding on to your hard-earned money is a priority. Contact a Taylor & Scott Family Law Lawyer for a comprehensive assessment of your situation and appropriate advice moving forward.
Get your property settlement agreement in writing: Your Taylor & Scott Lawyer can negotiate arrangements with your ex on your behalf. If you remain on speaking terms, both parties can attend the meetings to formalise a legally binding settlement agreement in writing.
What actions should I take with a joint bank account?
This will depend on your unique circumstances. If you are concerned any action may leave you financially or legally exposed, you should speak to a Taylor & Scott representative. If you suspect your ex-spouse or partner is engaging in dodgy financial behaviour to avoid fair dispersal of money, your lawyer can undertake a bank account search, brokerage account search or public assistance search on your behalf.
Full and frank disclosure is required of both parties, including financial documentation related to wages, income, property ownership, other financial resources. Serious penalties apply for providing false information.
How can I prepare for a meeting with a lawyer?
It’s best to speak to a qualified family law expert prior to exchanging relevant financial documentation with your ex. There is a lot to consider in a property settlement, and outcomes can be greatly improved when you have Taylor & Scott negotiating power on your side. Your settlement may involve bank accounts, shares, business investments, real estate, vehicles, furnishings, collectibles and more, and all need to be accurately evaluated and appraised before equitable dispersal of finances can be achieved.
With so much to consider, and the rest of your life to get on with, the services of a Taylor & Scott Family Lawyer could be the best investment you ever make.
At Taylor & Scott, ‘We Care For You’.