The current COVID-19 global health pandemic has had a dramatic and unprecedented effect on families across Australia. From a family law perspective, it has wreaked havoc on the court system and pushed the Family and Federal Circuit Courts into a new digital era. But what has it done for the litigants in the midst of property settlement negotiations?
The significant drop of the share market in response to COVID-19 has affected the value of businesses, real estate and superannuation funds, creating a fear of the unknown for those attempting to resolve their disputes and finalise matters in the current environment. A good starting point is to discuss with your solicitor obtaining updated valuations for any family business, shareholdings and superannuation before negotiating and locking yourself into a settlement. With respect to superannuation in particular and given the fluidity of the stock market at the present time, it might be more appropriate to negotiate a division of your respective superannuation entitlements using a percentage division, rather than calculating a split using a specific dollar amount.
If the changes to the stock market are hampering your position when negotiating a financial settlement, is that a reason in itself to resist finalising your matter until COVID-19 is over?
The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased delays in accessing judicial relief and court determination in litigated matters and nobody is sure of when we will see the world as we knew it return to normal. So if you were minded to delay court proceedings where no agreement can be reached, you may well be waiting years to have your matter heard.
If there was ever a time to work with your family lawyer and put their assistance, expert advice and guidance to good use to work towards an early and amicable resolution of your matter, now is the time. With most people experiencing increased free time, use such time to re-evaluate your property settlement negotiations and assess whether the fight will be worth it in the end. There is no doubt that in this time of crisis, a focus on family and support systems are going to be more important than the stress and energy required to continue your fight.
If you have questions about how COVID-19 will affect your property settlement, get in touch with one of our expert and friendly family lawyers today.
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