Top tips for solicitors preparing for family law property settlement

Mark Pastor, Associate Director & Family Law Specialist – Melbourne

In a recent conversation with our national family law specialists, we asked them to share some insights that would be helpful for solicitors who are preparing for family law property settlements.

Here are their top tips that we hope assist you and your clients in achieving a successful and efficient property settlement.

Up to date valuations are critical

Markets change quickly! Currently the property market is repositioning itself, responding to inflation, rapidly increasing interest rates, global conflict, and material shortages across the building industry. With all these factors influencing the property market it is important to make sure that property asset values are up to date as the end event of separation draws close.

Engage a local valuer with local knowledge

Within the rapidly changing property market submarkets are also shifting. Valuers with long standing and local knowledge of market movements can provide evidence and insights supporting the rise and fall to substantiate property values in each local submarket.

Jointly instruct a Single Expert Witness, if possible

If both parties in a separation are agreeable to jointly instruct a Single Expert Witness, the process for everyone becomes more efficient. It is likely to result in significant time savings, money saved by clients and a lot less hassle for all involved.

Property valuation is an established area of knowledge, and a standard methodology is applied to arrive at market value. Therefore, the evidence being provided is unbiased, objective and substantiated by data and expert opinion is not required by multiple experts for property valuation.

Have both parties attend an inspection with the valuer, if possible

By having both parties attend the property inspection with the valuer there is transparency of any information that is provided. Our valuation team are instructed not to discuss matters without both parties present.

The devil is in the detail

In the case of property valuation receiving detailed information at the start of the process will assist in a smooth and efficient experience.

Briefing Acumentis

Ideally when engaging Acumentis we’d like to know.

  • If the Valuer is being appointed as a Single Expert
  • Property details including Property Title and Deposited Plan (DP)
  • Access details and relationship to the matter
  • The relevant Court rules
  • Invoice details – who is paying?
  • Any relevant Mediation / Court details and dates
  • If property is incomplete or specialised
  • Any special comments or requests in instructions (ie valuer not take photos)

Briefing your clients

It is equally as important that the party occupying the property understands that the Valuer is there to help in a difficult situation. We would like them to be aware of what to expect during the property valuation process. Specifically.

  • Ensure the occupant has been briefed on what to expect during the inspection (photos and all rooms will be inspected)
  • Any information discussed will need to be shared with all parties
  • The Property Valuer is impartial

You get what you pay for

Ensure you are engaging a valuer who genuinely understands the asset class and has their finger on the pulse in that local market.  Be wary of promises made that someone can ‘value anything, anywhere’, they usually can’t, and your client will pay the price.

What should lawyers look out for when hiring a valuer?

Valuing property for Family Law or settlement purposes is specialised and different to high volume mortgage security valuations. At Acumentis family law property valuations are a consistent and core part of our business.  When selecting an expert to work with we feel the below criteria are important.

  • Experience – Local market knowledge and data, property expertise and specialisation across property types for family law valuations
  • Knowledge of the Family Law rules (Section 7)
  • Court readiness & experience - confidence, training & integrity
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Quality, consistency, accuracy supported by research and insights

About Acumentis Property Valuers

  • Acumentis is Australia’s only independent, locally owned, ASX listed property valuation and advisory firm.
  • Over 300 property professionals deliver insightful advice across the nation from over 45 metropolitan and regional offices.
  • Valuations for family law and legal purposes across residential, commercial, rural and agribusiness property types, nationwide.
  • Other Family Law & Legal Services provided my Acumentis:
  • Expert witness, shadow expert and critique consultation advice
  • Litigation
  • Estate planning
  • Stamp duty valuations for property transfer purposes
  • Partnership dissolution, pre-settlement disputes
  • Mediation
  • Compulsory acquisition and resumption valuations
  • Portfolio services

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