Property and Financial Settlement

Property Mediation to help separating couples work out an agreement to distribute their property and financial assets.

Making decisions about fair division of property and assets

When couples separate they may need to make decisions about how to distribute property, finances and debts. Property mediation can assist to work out your property and financial settlement.

Property and assets may be divided between you and your partner by:

  • Agreement
  • Going to court, or
  • Using a family dispute resolution service to help reach agreement.

Division of property and assets is not always straight forward. It is always recommended that you get legal advice to begin with so you understand your position fully, even if you can amicably reach an agreement.

Mediation provides separating couples with a significantly lower cost option than being represented in family court by a lawyer. Court proceedings can be lengthy, stressful and could take up to a year to get the first (of what could be many) court appearances.

The mediator provides a structured conversation that supports separating couples equally, to negotiate an agreement between themselves.

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.


When can we start the process of dividing our property and finances?

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.


Do we need to get legal advice?

Mediators are unable to provide advice to parties so it is important that each of you have a good understanding of your legal position so that you can negotiate effectively in mediation.

Our mediators can provide both parties with information on where to seek legal advice.


How many sessions will I have to attend?

This depends on individual circumstances.

Each party will have an initial one-on-one assessment (up to 90 minutes) with the mediator to explore the appropriateness of mediation. After meeting with both parties, a decision will be made whether we move to the next stage which is separate one-on-one preparation appointments.

The mediator continues to assess for appropriateness throughout the entire process.

Parties will be then booked into the next stage which is a joint session, (either together or in separate rooms) to begin settlement discussions. The information gathered in the separate appointments will be exchanged between parties at this session. Further joint sessions may be arranged if needed.

The process, in four steps:


Identify and evaluate assets

You will individually list all assets and liabilities with the assistance of the mediator and work towards an agreed asset pool. Full financial disclosure is essential including exchanging documents such as statements, valuation and bank account statements.


Determine party contributions

Substantial and significant contributions that you each have made throughout the course of the relationship will be captured. Documenting these helps you both to understand each other’s contributions, both financially and non financially, and can include contributions from other family members.


Identify needs and outcomes

The mediator will help parties to consider what their needs will be moving forward. Considerations will include your income, earning capacity, any health issues that may impact on your ability to work or on your financial needs, skills and qualifications, or any need to care for other people. Future needs of both parties may have an impact on the final outcome of the settlement in order to be fair and reasonable.


Negotiate and agree on division of assets

The final step in the financial and property settlement process is making decisions about what the settlement will be. This is often reflected in a percentage figure. Your mediator may also assist you to consider practicalities, such as getting a house ready for sale, dissolving bank accounts or share portfolios, dealing with personal effects and distribution of furniture.

What happens next?

If you reach an agreement regarding your property and financial settlement you may request that your mediator types up a document reflecting this to share with both parties. This agreement is not legally binding or enforceable but may assist you or your lawyer with the preparation of Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement. It is strongly recommended that you formalise your financial settlement in one of these ways in order for it to be legally binding.

If you do not reach an agreement, you will leave with a clearer understanding of the issues and will be provided with a copy of the board notes taken.

If there is no more room for negotiation and no further mediation sessions are of benefit, then an application to court or negotiation through lawyers may be the next appropriate step.

The value of property can be significantly diminished by the costs of going through legal and court processes. Coming to agreement through the property mediation process maintains the value of your assets and preserves the wellbeing of all concerned.

Fact sheet

Property Mediation – Fact sheet


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