Painting an honest and fair financial picture.
Whether it is a mediation, or a court process each party will be required to undertake five pieces of financial work:
Your personal balance sheet or current financial snapshot.
The required financial disclosure to verify your balance sheet.
A day to day, twelve month ‘living needs’ budget: one for yourself and one for the children.
Your financial history pre marriage and during.
An Open Offer: your proposed settlement.
Your balance sheet
& financial disclosure —
This is the starting place
for the financial divorce process.
Our background and formal training mean we can help put the financial picture together quickly and accurately. Lawyers do not have the skills for this work, so they typically ask the parties to undertake this work themselves. However, we are entirely accustomed to this type of work as our analytical, finance and accounting knowledge comes to the fore.
If the process is court driven, we will collate and present the information, and fill out any necessary court asset and liability forms including assisting with required disclosure. In mediation the information is still required but there is no need to fill out all official court forms.
All assets need to be disclosed and listed at market rates. The financial disclosure is necessary to verify your balance sheet and records such as bank statements, mortgages, property titles, pensions, trust financial statements and any other financial records will be required. We can help prepare the asset schedule accurately and collate the information. Our skills and experience make us familiar with the reasonable level of documentation required to satisfy these requirements.
Digging for the truth
in complex financial structures —
We find the vast majority of people do disclose their assets and liabilities accurately. However, it is also true that some do not. These people may choose to try and hide their true financial picture by not disclosing assets in the hope of securing an unfair deal.
Our financial experience, accounting and finance training allows us to investigate any anomalies during financial disclosure.
Some parties are justifiably frightened and confused as to the true financial position of the family’s assets when the family use trust structures often based in ‘offshore’ jurisdictions. This is particularly common when one party has assumed sole responsibility for dealing with these matters. We are familiar with the use of trusts in different jurisdictions and how assets and liabilities are reported.
When there is a suspicion that that one party is using trust structures to hide assets, the anxiety level disproportionately increases. We have the skills to investigate trust disclosures and put your mind at rest.
Trust structures and other financial arrangements are not designed to be unravelled abruptly. This understandably creates uncertainty because it can reduce the party’s net assets, usually due to tax charges. We are familiar with these structures and would look to minimise any unwanted and unforeseen outcomes that could reduce the net assets of the matrimonial assets.
This is much easier in mediation when parties can agree a settlement, but even in a court case, we would still look to minimise any unforeseen costs by bringing to the court’s attention the affects and how they can be mitigated against.
outside experts —
In some cases, experts will be needed to build and validate the financial picture. If these experts are not carefully briefed and managed this can be a very expensive exercise. These associated ‘hidden’ costs are not always explained to parties before they embark on the divorce process.
For example, the financial position is always presented after tax. Some cases may require expert tax advice, particularly when there are more complex structures like the use of family trusts. There may also be the need for property valuations.
We are completely familiar with these needs and have access to trusted professionals where costs can be minimised. In the case of mediation, in some instances we can employ techniques that do away with the need for expert opinions, reducing time and cost but still resulting in accurate financial disclosure that both parties agree with.
household budgets —
Part of the financial disclosure includes formulating household budgets which reflect your living costs on a month by month basis. We are well versed in putting together these budgets, so they are accurate and reasonable. We can also analyse, collate and present historic spending and other evidence in a model that distinguishes between recurring and non-recurring or non-budgeted spend. This proves your budget’s robustness, accuracy and that the projections are fair and reasonable.
In one instance this work encompassed reviewing a three-year period covering over 10,000 transactions, requiring the considerable financial skills that our people have mastered in blue chip organisations like McKinsey and Co.
The financial needs of any children must also be budgeted for, funds set aside and protected with rules around how and when the funds can be used for their benefit. We are experienced in understanding the financial needs of children and suggesting ways to protect their future.
Your financial history pre and during the marriage needs to be put together in a witness statement. We are well versed in this and we will work with you to provide an accurate summary with all the correct analysis to ensure all the appropriate information is presented clearly, accurately and transparently.
Open offer —
The court requires a settlement offer be made publicly to your ex-partner and the court at trial. This is your view of a fair and reasonable settlement, one that you believe the court will adopt. Unlike most lawyers, we can think creatively when helping you develop and finalise an offer that will be viewed positively by the court. To help you formulate your offer, we use a unique tool known as our ‘sensitivity’ tool or ‘what if’ model.
The ‘what if’ model helps you understand the pros and cons of an offer including all of the after tax financial implications and the percentage asset split. By using this model, all implications of an offer can be easily digested.
While our unique model is used extensively in our mediation process, it also improves the likelihood of reaching settlement before final trial in a court driven process. Using our model, any options for settlement can be reviewed at any time. This means you can make a private offer during the legal process with a complete and fast understanding of the full implications of that offer. Confidential offers can be made at any time during the legal process in the hopes of obtaining a settlement – a practice we encourage.