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NOTICE ALERT IN LIGHT OF COVID-19

WHAT WE PROPOSE AND HOW WE CAN ASSIST

At Watson & Watson our clients come first. Please be assured of our continued dedicated services to all current and new clients.

As we have done in the past, we will continue to offer alternative conferencing methods ie video conferencing, skype or telephone conferences. Reviewing of all documentation provided to us prior to any initial conference will be all inclusive of our set fee. Do not hesitate to contact Shereen Da Gloria on (02) 9221 6011 should you have any concerns.

Property Settlements and Covid-19 – Is it Safe to Settle – Should I Wait?

13/05/2020

The Covid-19 pandemic arrived at a time when many separated couples are in the process of attempting to achieve a division of property.  Some may have commenced proceedings in the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court or were in negotiation or participating in Mediation to resolve and then document their settlement. 

The pandemic lockdown has caused uncertainty as to whether it is safe and appropriate to continue Court Hearings, negotiations or mediations.

Value of Assets is Uncertain

It is uncertain as to how the current crisis has affected the long term value of assets including land, businesses and particularly shares.  There has been significant volatility on the Australian Stock Exchange – decline in the value of shares has been high.  The Funds of which you are a member have investments in a wide range of assets and this includes shares in publicly listed companies.  This has led to significant declines in the value of Superannuation Funds and therefore the superannuation entitlements of fund members. 

The current valuing makes it hard to ensure that a settlement, a mediated settlement or decision by a Court will produce a fair and equitable result. 

Value of Superannuation Entitlements is Fluctuating

The volatility of the share market has impacted adversely on the value of Superannuation Funds.  Superannuation funds invest heavily in listed shares.  Member entitlements increase or decrease in value as the share market fluctuates.  It would be sensible to obtain financial advice as to how to manage your superannuation interest in a volatile market.  It is also crucial that legal advice be obtained in a situation where an asset is declining in value at the same time that you are attempting to reach an agreement on property division.  Selecting the asset that is declining in value may have long term consequences. 

Should I access my superannuation or change how it is invested – should I move away from shares?

Some of the practical considerations in relation to superannuation entitlements important to consider are:

  • Your age – When can you access your superannuation.
  • Has the retraction in the share market effected your retirement plan – can you still afford to retire. 
  • Should you withdraw from the fund (if you are entitled to do so) and take cash to avoid further loss. 
  • Should you identify what portion of your Superannuation Fund is held in shares and move to an investment type not as volatile as shares. 

Family Law property cases almost always involve a consideration of how superannuation entitlements will be divided or retained by the parties.  Superannuation Funds may include assets other than shares such as real estate or cash and the division of superannuation by taking into account the risks is now more important than ever to make the right decision or advice from an experienced lawyer is essential.

At Watson & Watson our experienced Family Law Solicitors can assist you in navigating this difficulty time in order to achieve the most equitable financial/property settlement outcome for your future.  Please do not hesitate to contact Richard Watson Senior Family Law Solicitor or his Personal Assistant Shereen Da Gloria to discuss your concerns and seek the appropriate advice.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 9221 6011.

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