If you are a party in a property dispute and you have an Accountant or Financial Advisor – you should get them in contact with your Family Lawyer. Financial professionals can assist your Family Law matter in several ways, but primarily:
- By providing specialist advice that will lead to a better result overall for you in the property settlement (explained in detail below); and
- By providing assistance which results in a reduction in the duplication of work, narrowing of issues in the case, and more efficiency in the running of your matter. This should lead to a reduction in your overall legal expenses.
The first (and in my view most important) way your Accountant or Financial Advisor can assist is by giving advice that can lead to an overall better result for you, particularly the type of advice that your Family Lawyer may not be qualified to give you. For example:
- Your Accountant/Financial Advisor can provide you with advice about which assets or structures in your asset pool would be ideal for you to keep, and which ones would be ideal to dispose of. For example, there may be an asset that is pregnant with a large Capital Gains Tax liability and therefore you would prefer not to retain.
- Your Accountant/Financial Advisor can also provide you with advice about how best to restructure the assets following the separation. The making of final Family Court Orders may provide an opportunity to restructure your assets or entities in a more tax effective way. You should consider taking up the opportunity.
Reduction in legal cost
The second way your Accountant and Financial Advisor can assist is in a more administrative way, which can lead to a reduction in duplication of work. For example:
- They can assist you to comply with your disclosure obligations:
- Parties in Family Law matters have an obligation to produce documents relevant to their financial position.
- Your Accountant or Financial Advisor will likely have copies of many of these relevant documents and can provide them directly to your Family Lawyer (preferably electronically and preferably in an orderly fashion.)
- The types of documents required include, but are not limited to:
- Financial Statements and Tax Returns for you and for any entities you have an interest;
- Bank statements;
- Business records; and
- Records of transactions.
- They can assist your Family Lawyer to value the Asset pool available for division:
- Step one in resolving a property dispute is to ascribe a value to each asset, liability and financial resource in the pool available for division.
- Your Accountant or Financial Advisor will likely have access to current values for input into the Schedule of Assets and Liabilities. For example, values for:
- all bank accounts;
- business interests;
- superannuation interests;
- real estate;
- plant and equipment; and
- all liabilities including tax liabilities and inter-entity loans.
- They can assist in the preparation of specific legal documents:
- If the matter is in Court, you will need to file a Form 13 Financial Statement. The Form 13 is a sworn statement about your income, expenses, assets, liabilities and superannuation. If you have a complex structure, your Accountant/Financial Advisor can assist your Family Lawyer in the drafting of this document.
- If relevant/required, your Accountant/Financial Advisor can give evidence to the Family Court about any issues or transactions which they have knowledge of.
- If the matter is resolved by consent by way of a Form 11 Application for Consent Orders or Binding Financial Agreement, your Accountant/Financial Advisor can also assist in the drafting of these documents.
- Your Accountant/Financial Advisor may have historical records about matters that become relevant in your case. For example, if there is a dispute about who paid the deposit and purchase costs on the purchase of the family home, your Accountant/Financial Advisor may have maintained records of the transaction. The production of these documents may narrow issues in the case.
- In the event an independent report is required as to the value of an asset in your asset pool, your Accountant/Financial Advisor can provide you (and your Family Lawyer) with a confidential critique of the independent report.
If you have any queries about other ways your Accountant or Financial Advisor can assist in your property dispute, do not hesitate to ask your Family Lawyer.
This material is produced for the law firm of Kim Wilson & Co and is intended to provide our clients and other people who access it general information on our Firm and various legal topics. The content of this document does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Before acting or relying upon any content of this documents you should seek legal or other appropriate professional advice. The use of this document and the information contained in it is not intended to create nor does it create a solicitor-client relationship between any person and Kim Wilson & Co.