We Can’t Agree on Our Property Settlement


What to do when you can’t make your ex see reason.

Whether the decision to split is amicable or not, when it comes to dividing up the joint property, there’s a very high probability that things will get, at the very least – awkward. Let’s face it, it is just human nature to want a big slice of the cake and not to just giveaway what one considers perhaps, as the hard-earned spoils of their labour. And then there is pride, stubbornness and just simply wanting to make things difficult.

Many couples agree on one thing during this process- ‘we rarely agreed on anything during our relationship, so why should this be any different’

Most importantly, don’t stress and don’t panic. At McLaughlin & Associates, we’re experienced in family law and we have successfully worked with many parties, who couldn’t initially agree on the division of property.

In the first stage of our process we make every attempt to reach agreement and if that is not successful, the next stage is to issue proceedings.

Out of court can be a winning shot

Hitting it out of court can lose you the match in tennis, but when the ‘love match’ is of a different nature, out of court can be a winning strategy.

If you’ve ever been to court in any capacity, you will know the stress and anxiety that such an experience generates. On both sides there is also the cost to consider –whether you’re the one initiating or the one responding to the proceedings. Depending on how your ex-partner responds and how drawn-out the case is, the costs can be substantial.

These are our driving motivations for making every possible effort to get agreement between the parties as to the division of property without the need to go to Court. We utilise our skills in mediation and negotiation to work on your behalf to reach a mutually agreeable outcome as we consider the time, stress, anxiety and cost of going to Court is rarely ever worthwhile.

However, we don’t exist in a perfect world and if an agreement cannot be reached between the parties as to the division of their property then usually our recommendation will be that rather than continue a hopeless cause of trying to make their ex see reason it is sometimes better off to issue proceedings.

This can occur when the parties are so far apart that agreement is impossible or the other party is refusing to be reasonable or is asking our client to take less than he or she is entitled to. At this stage, sometimes you are left with no choice but to take the matter to Court.

Game on – time to hit the courts

While there are downsides to having to take a property settlement case to court, there are also significant benefits in commencing proceedings.

Send a Strong Message

Just the mere advisement of your intentions sends a clear signal to your ex that it is now “game on” and you are not prepared to be mucked around any further in trying to resolve the issue yourselves. Occasionally, this can be enough to bring them back to the negotiating table and work harder at an out of court agreement.

Stop Ignoring Me

If your ex has been deliberately or otherwise ignoring your attempts to bring about a resolution, even when contacted by us, your legal representative, then issuing proceedings is a major wake-up call to them to stop ignoring you!! One you go to this stage, the clock starts ticking and they are forced to address the issue, that is, respond to your communications, or they will find themselves in court.

Reality Check

This stage definitely gives your ex a reality check.  Quite often we find that a client’s ex has, up to that point, been acting for themselves and taking advice from the great unqualified – family, friends or “bush lawyer” work colleagues. They’ve never actually consulted a proper, qualified solicitor.

Once served with initiating proceedings, in most instances, the ex is then required to or finally decides to consult with a qualified lawyer and receives professional advice. In many cases, they are given the reality check that their expectations are totally unrealistic and advice, based on experience and qualifications, is given as to what is in fact a reasonable outcome.

Despite everything you may hear about the dangers of couples “lawyering up” it can in fact work to everyone’s benefit. Lawyers can bring objectivity to what is a very sensitive, highly charged situation for the parties. Lawyers keep the emotion out of it as they are looking at the issue from a different point of view and in acting in their client’s best interest they endeavour to resolve the matter without the need to go to Court.

Accelerate to the End Game

Issuing proceedings can also actually speed up the process of resolving the matter. Clients sometimes find themselves in a seemingly endless paper war with their ex with the matter dragging on for months if not years without achieving anything.

Then, out of frustration, one party issues proceedings and finally, things start to accelerate towards a conclusion! Think about it, if proceedings had been issued much earlier, there’s a good chance that the matter would have been resolved and finalised much earlier.

Last Chance Efforts 

At McLaughlin & Associates we don’t give up quite that easily – issuing proceedings is not the end of the end. Before the matter reaches court, we continue to take steps to resolve the matter by way of a pre-trial conference. Even if not successful in actually resolving the matter definitively, these steps may succeed in narrowing down the issues in dispute, which in turn may save time and costs when the matter does eventually go to trial.

If you have any queries or need assistance with your family law matter don’t hesitate to contact us on 07 3808 7777.