Financial settlements and property sales during the health crisis


We are in a unique situation. The government is placing restrictions that make creating or complying with orders a little more challenging. In family law, creating and complying with financial settlement is proving a challenging decision for many couples. The big question of to proceed or to delay settlements and what the best course of action to take is challenging many couples. Rachael Scharrer, Separation Strategist and Life Change Counsellor, identifies three groups of people that are exploring financial settlements and property sales during the health crisis.

Recently, the Australia Government placed restrictions on the real estate industry. It specifically stated that to restrict the potential spread of the virus there will not be any more live auctions or listed home inspections slots. Today, there are many people finding themselves in the tricky situation of deciding whether they should settle their financial settlements (including selling their homes or property) or to wait.

The first thing to remember is that (for many people) the decision surrounding when to settle financially is certainly up to your discretion.

Your choices: You are likely to fall in to one of three groups of people.

The first group are those who are choosing to take the financial ‘hit’ and divide assets, super and shares. This create a formal finality and independence. While the real estate market is reporting in most areas to be depressed, selling your home is still an option. If you have a property to sell, private inspections are still permitted and auctions are taking place online – it’s likely that the sale. This option is best if you find that not having a financial settlement is causing great concern, anxiety and stress. By choosing to take the financial loss, you are gaining your wellbeing, peace and sanity.

The second group are those who are waiting to see what comes of these uncertain times, hoping that in 6 or 12 months the economy will improve sufficiently to formally financially separate. This option works if you and your ex are happy working together with your finances and home for the longer-term financial benefit. If you are in the latter group of people who want to wait for better economic conditions, your alternative could be to create orders or a binding financial agreement that specifies how you handle the home and expenses until you sell (say early next year), what the financial split will be once the house is sold and nominate a superannuation and other asset split for now. Your family lawyer can create your orders or binding financial agreement for a fee.

Finally, the third group are those who have been Court Ordered to settle their financial settlements. In this situation, you need to do your best to abide by the Court Order. Shares and superannuation can easily be transferred. If you are patient, the share value will increase when the economic situation improves. It gets a little trickier when there has been a Court Order for you to sell your home or property. Often in divorce, you have to go to auction to sell the property to ensure fairness to both owners. You could sell to a buyer without going to auction, provided that you and your ex-spouse agree that the figure is fair and reasonable. Given the current restrictions on inspections and auctions, the courts are likely to be lenient and understanding. Be certain to consult your family lawyer before making any decisions. Your lawyer may ask permission from your presiding Judge for permission to delay acting upon certain settlement orders. If the advice from your lawyer or the Judge is to wait until after the health crisis, then be ready to proceed with the sale or auction as soon as the economy picks up or when directed.

Your family lawyer is a great resource to offer guidance in this unprecedented time.

We don’t have a crystal ball to look into the future. Equally, we can’t relive the past and change our decisions. Whatever you do, be it to complete your financial settlement in part or in full during the economic crisis or to delay the settlement until the economic crisis has passed, try to find some peace around your decision. It is important for you to be the reasonable person during an unreasonable time.

For your personal consultation regarding the possible options surrounding your financial settlement, book your Strategy Session here.


This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd