Four Important Facts You Need to Know About Settlement

Courtney Barton 1. What is a Property Settlement?

When a marriage or a de facto relationship ends, the parties should always finalise their financial ties with one another.  This may involve the transfer of ownership of real estate, cash, superannuation or other property from one party to another.  For example, if the matrimonial home is in joint names the parties may agree that the house be sold and the proceeds divided. Alternatively, the parties may agree that one party receives the house and makes a cash payment of some nature to the other party to ‘buy out’ their interest.

When you are separating, it is important to obtain legal advice from a Solicitor specialising in family law, in order to determine your entitlements.

2. How do I formalise our property settlement?

Any agreement reached between you and your former partner should always be formalised (recorded legally).

There are two ways of recording a property settlement agreement between two separated parties:

  1. A Consent Order; or a
  2. Binding Financial Agreement.

A Consent Order is an Order which both parties have agreed to and the Family Court approves before making the Order, to ensure it is just and equitable.

A Binding Financial Agreement is an agreement between parties which has not been scrutinised by a Court to ensure it is just and equitable however the parties must consult with a Solicitor to make the agreement valid.

You should talk to your Solicitor about which form of agreement is right for you.

3. Why is it important to formalise your property settlement?

There are several reasons:

  • A Consent Order & Binding Financial Agreement are legally binding. This means that if the other party does not comply with the agreement, you have recourse to the Court to enforce compliance of the agreement.
  •  It finalises your financial relationship with your former partner. This means that your former partner cannot make a further property settlement claim against you.

4. Why is it important to do your property settlement promptly after you separate?

If you do not finalise your property settlement promptly after separation, this means your financial ties with one another have not been severed and you leave yourself open to a property settlement claim being made against you in the future, subject to relevant time limitations.

The value of the asset pool is not the date of separation it is when you make an agreement or when a Judge determines your matter.

This means that if your super interest increases, or you acquire a new asset or you improve the value of an asset post separation, but prior to a property settlement, it forms part of the property pool to be split between you and your former partner.

You should not leave yourself open to your improved superannuation entitlements,  or assets acquired/improved by you post separation,  forming part of your  property settlement.

Alternatively, if your former partner sells an asset or wastes away funds in the property pool, post separation, and applies the income for his/her own benefit, the property pool is reduced therefore reducing your entitlements. This is because the Court cannot deal with assets that no longer exist.

The only caveat to the above is that the Court has discretion to take into account financial contributions of the parties or wastage of matrimonial assets post separation.

It  is in your interests to formalise your property settlement sooner rather than later so that you can re-establish your financial position without a potential property settlement application hanging over your head in the future depending on time limitations.

Slater and Gordon Group Support the Sunshine Coast Surf Season

surfcheque5

Coolum Beach Surf Club – Sarah Dennis

Dicky Beach - Liz Catton

Dicky Beach Surf Club – Liz Catton

Mudjimba Surf Club

Mudjimba Surf Club – Michael Callow

Surf clubs across the Sunshine Coast have received a cash bonus to support their nippers as part of the Slater and Gordon Group Surf Cheque initiative.

The initiative which ran throughout the lifesaving season recognized the important contribution surf clubs make to the Sunshine Coast community by awarding $1000 towards their junior nipper program.

The winning surf lifesaving clubs included:

  • Dicky Beach SLSC
  • Alexandra SLSC
  • Mudjimba Beach SLSC
  • Coolum Beach SLSC
  • Sunshine Beach SLSC
  • Metropolitan Caloundra

Principal Lawyer Michael Callow said it is important to support our local surf clubs to ensure our beaches are kept safe.

“The Sunshine Coast surf lifesaving clubs are the heart and soul of our beaches and many members volunteer their time each summer to ensure the safety of beachgoers,” Mr Callow said.

“It is important that we continue to support these clubs and the hard work and dedication their members deliver to the community, especially when it comes to the great training programs they provide to the nippers.”

Senior Associate Liz Catton said Slater and Gordon Group are proud to support surf clubs on the Sunshine Coast.

“Surf Clubs are often run by volunteers and rely heavily on donations from the community,” Ms Catton said.

“The Slater and Gordon Group Surf Cheque initiative recognize the importance of these training programs and are proud to assist in the training of our future lifesavers.”

Mudjimba Beach Surf Club Junior Activities Chairman Adam Amos said the club were extremely grateful for the donation made by the Slater and Gordon Group.

“The $1000 went towards paying for half of the registration fees for our surf sport participants who competed at the branch championships,” Mr Amos said.

“We were also able to pay for half of the registration fees for 12 youth to undertake SLSQ Camp Commando Program.”

 

The Importance of Engaging a Family Lawyer

Angela Tondelstrand DSC_8770Angela Tondelstrand, Principal Lawyer of STOLaw, part of the Slater and Gordon Group at North Lakes, explains the importance of engaging a lawyer when separating and that not all matters will end up in court if all appropriate avenues and steps are been taken.

Q1. Why is it important to engage a lawyer in the early stages of separation?  So that you can be aware of your rights and responsibilities upon separation, the likely effect of changes in circumstances, and can take steps to protect your rights if there is a risk that time and changing circumstances can have a negative effect.

Q2. How can a lawyer assist someone going through a separation? By advising a party of their options, tailored to the circumstances of the client, whilst also informing of the various opportunities, risks and costs that those options pose.  The lawyer would then follow the client’s instructions to navigate a resolution, usually by negotiation with the other party.

Q3. What is the most important factor/s to consider when separating? Obtaining timely advice from a specialist legal advisor who is not afraid to tell you what you need to know, and not necessarily what you want to hear.

Q4. There is a common misconception that seeing a lawyer will mean you will have to go to court. Is that correct? Absolutely not!  In my experience most matters do not require a court process to resolve, and except in limited circumstances, lawyers should attempt negotiations if reasonably and practically possible, to avoid unnecessary waste of a client’s time and money.

Seville Hill No 8 Shiraz 2012

Seville HillWhat was once a small apple and cherry orchard near Seville in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is now Seville Hill Estate; a six hectare vineyard producing low volumes of high quality Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Shiraz grapes.  Agriculturalists John and Josie D’Alosio removed the fruit trees and planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines in 1991, but have since expanded their range to include graftings of some Italian styles like Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese and Tempranillo in 2011.

And while their Cabernet is excellent, I reckon their 2012 No 8 Shiraz is the standout from the stable.  It’s a perfect compromise between structure and power as the upfront black cherry and mocha characters robustly drive their way through a mouth-filling mid-palate, before pepper and subtle spices meet French Oak and subdued tannins at the finish.  It’s a wine of great integrity as it flows seamlessly despite layer upon layer of flavours unfolding as it weaves its magic through your mouth.

There’s enough natural acidity to suggest that despite its current drinkability, it will only improve over the next decade or so – not that I can see it laying in my cellar racks for that long!

At $60 a bottle it’s not a quaffer, but undoubtedly one of the best Shiraz from the region that I have ever had the privilege to enjoy.

De Bortoli Sacred Hill Chardonnay 2015

De Bortoli Sacred Hill ChardonnayThe value end of the retail wine spectrum is a busy if not duopolistic space, but if you can look past the “specials” promoted by the Coles and Woolworths operations, there are some Australian made wines punching well above their weight.  Like the De Bortoli Sacred Hill Chardonnay 2015.

It’s a product of the Riverina region near Griffith in New South Wales where the warm dry climate is well suited to growing high volumes of white wines like Semillon and Chardonnay.  Such is its suitability to viticulture that the Riverina is, in fact, now the second biggest wine producing area in Australia!

Unlike many of its competitors at the quaffing price point, the Sacred Hill does not give the impression of being a mass produced product best stored in cardboard!  It shows lively fruit throughout yet possesses great poise and balance.  The nose is somewhat unyielding but reveals its French oak exposure from the outset with perhaps just a slight hint of nectarine.  Once on the palate, voluptuous pear, stone fruit and honeydew melon characters embrace gentle acids and drive their way to a long crisp finale.

It’s a remarkable wine given its $5 price tag and well suited as a quaffer or when catering for the crowds.

 

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay 2012

Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay 2012I have tried some seriously good Chardonnay in my time and expensive ones at that; but few, if any, have been better than the Bird in Hand Nest Egg 2012.  And it seems that it’s not just my own palate that has been thoroughly impressed by the Nest Egg.  James Halliday gave it an outstanding 95 points in his 2014 Wine Companion and it even won Best Wine of Show at the International Cool Climate Wine Show in 2014.

As the $75 price tag suggests, it’s an indulgent style but one which hints at nectarine and toasted cashews on the nose and a zippy citric creaminess through the middle.  The obvious influence of malolactic fermentation may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that process and some exposure to quality French oak, has added a creamy complexity that oozes sophistication and adds palate weight through to a lingering finale.  I love the way that a gentle acidity and a toasty oakiness caress and cajole your tastebuds yet deliver an overwhelming elegance to a world class wine.  It’s not cheap, but it’s bound to become an Australian icon.

 

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

Cumulus Climbing 2015 Pinot Gris

Cumulus Climbing 2The cool climate, dry autumns and elevated vineyards in Orange, New South Wales, make it an ideal environment for growing Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, but it may be the Alsatian inspired Pinot Gris grape that puts it front and centre of the viticultural map.  In the United States, Pinot Gris is now the second biggest selling style of dry white wine (after Chardonnay) and it’s slowly gaining momentum here Down Under. Its growing popularity is probably a reflection of the compromise it offers between aromatic and austere, and the inoffensive nature of its gentle acid backbone.

The Cumulus Climbing 2015 Pinot Gris is a genuine ambassador for the Orange locals as it delivers all the best of the Pinot Gris’s attributes, but at a sub $20 price tag.  And it’s all about texture, mouth feel and palate weight.

Sure, there are some delightful pear, Fuji apple and Quince flavours that remain lively right across the palate, but it’s the way the wine emboldens and expands as it builds to its defined but well constrained conclusion, that makes it such an attractive drink-now proposition. Some French Oak exposure and a bit of stirring on lees have given it a riper, fuller and more textural presence and leave a sense of opulence as you impulsively reach for the glass to take just another sip. It’s approachable on its own, but also well suited to pairing with spicy Asian dishes.

Chard Farm River Run Pinot Noir 2013

Chard Farm Pinot NoirWhilst wines stored in your cellar need constant, if not coolish temperatures, it’s an entirely different rule for winemakers applying their viticultural skills to the developing fruit in the vineyard.  Around the world, growing regions with the greatest variation in daily and seasonal temperatures tend to produce the best fruit for winemaking purposes and there’s no better example than Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island.

In Otago, the semi-continental climate experiences seasonal extremes with hot dry summers and cold, snow packed winters. And the impact on fruit quality is obvious, especially in Pinot Noir from the region.

Chard Farm is one of the well-established wineries in Central Otago, having some 25 years or so of production under its belt and it’s now turning out some world class Pinot.  Their River Run Pinot Noir 2013 is selling at a $35 price point and exhibits all of the characteristics that have put the region on the viticultural map.

In the glass, the vibrant ruby redness telegraphs a fresh liveliness that will have your tastebuds salivating well before the first sip.  Take a whiff and the red cherried fruit aromas are a prologue for the arrival of spicy violet and sage notes across the mid palate, while fine tannins, minerality and a gentle acidity provide elegance to a lingering strawberry epilogue.

It’s a world class wine, but without the Burgundian price tag.

Pepper Tree Estate Grown Wrattonbully Merlot 2013

Pepper Tree Estate Grown Wrattonbully MerlotThe Wrattonbully wine region is sandwiched between Coonawarra and Padthaway in South Eastern South Australia and, just like its neighbouring districts, enjoys regionally distinctive terroir and abundant underground water.  The Terra Rossa soils and limestone ridges have proven to be an ideal environment for growing Cabernet and Shiraz, but also Merlot wines of unusual power and persistence.

The Pepper Tree 2013 Merlot is made from 100% Merlot fruit and is sourced from the Wrattonbully vineyards on the southern end of the Limestone Coast.  And it’s definitely not your typically soft and mellow style!  The nose is slightly dusty and reeks of plump ripe raspberries, but once on the palate a spicy cascade of mulberries and blackcurrants become a mouth-filling tidal wave of voluptuous richness. It’s perhaps a few steps beyond ‘medium bodied’, but the plush fruit, hints of cassis and plums allow it to carry through a lengthy conclusion.

There’s a lashing of savoury oak to add balance at the back but it’s powerless to constrain the overwhelming peppery spiciness that is the hallmark of the region.

The power and presence of the Pepper Tree Merlot is atypical of the style and will appeal to lovers of full bodied reds, especially at its $19 price point.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz 2012

Wolf Blass Gold Label ShirazWolfgang Franz Otto Blass was born in Germany in 1934 but by the youthful age of 27 had moved to the Barossa Valley in South Australia and established his own “Wolf Blass Wines” label only five years later.  It didn’t take long for this German national has become an Australian icon of the wine industry having won a record four Jimmy Watson trophies for his handiwork with Barossa fruit.

These days, the brand is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, but is still pumping out some terrific wines under the Wolf Blass label.  The current Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz is the 2012 vintage and is selling at only around $25 a bottle.  It’s a certain winner in the value for money stakes as it displays all of the fruit intensity that we’d expect from the region, but with an integrity that belies its price point.  Put it with a decent steak and the intensely ripe fruit will cavort with some lovely toasty oak characters in the middle, before a savoury spiciness descends on the back palate.  To me, the real attraction of the wine is the probity of its conclusion which is true to the rich heritage of the region, but balances lashings of French oak to bring a dry edge to the finish.  I have no doubt that even Mr Blass himself would be proud of this one!