All of your assets, liabilities and financial resources (such as superannuation and pending personal injury claims) must be valued and totalled. A family lawyer can provide you with a list of what you might need. At the end, we will know what the total asset pool is. A very important part of this process is the exchange of disclosure. You must obtain financial documentation and provide copies to the other party in the dispute.
This is so both parties can satisfy themselves that you can be confident of what is in the property pool and the history of contributions. It is very important that you obtain your disclosure and provide it to your lawyer as soon as possible. One way that costs rapidly increase is if there are disputes and delays in disclosure.
The legislation says we must then consider the contributions that both parties made to the asset pool. These contributions can take many forms. It can be paying the mortgage for the property that you live in. It could be paying the food and utilities so as to allow the other person to pay the mortgage. It also includes caring for children, doing the housework and improving and maintaining the property. If one of the parties brought in an inheritance or significant property this may also be taken into account in determining the overall contributions.
The third step requires the court to consider the future needs of both of the parties to the relationship. This involves an assessment of their future earning capacity, their role in raising the children, any health matters that could affect their employment prospects. The parent who is going to have primary care of the children will often receive an adjustment in their favour under this step.
Step Four requires the court to review the asset pool and the other factors to determine whether or not the settlement is just and equitable. The court must consider that case as a whole. For example, the behaviour of the parties and the existance of a previous informal settlement led the court to consider not making any order in favour of one of the parties in a case that was heard.