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You’ve been in a relationship where your partner has managed the finances. They’ve done all the internet banking, paid the bills, been the point of contact for your financial adviser and accountant, and so on.

It’s not uncommon. Perhaps they were more interested in financial matters or it was just not something you took on in the balance of household duties.

But now you have separated and are left with limited knowledge of your finances. You have no idea where to go to from here when negotiating your property settlement.

Sound familiar?

In this video, CGW family lawyer, Tiana Harris talks us through some of the steps you can take to become informed of your financial circumstances so that you can confidently negotiate your property settlement.


Hi, I’m Tiana, and I’m a lawyer in the family law team here at Cooper Grace Ward.

We often have clients who come to see us who don’t understand their finances or the property pool. This is usually because the other spouse took more interest in the finances generally and paid all the bills. But when you are negotiating your property settlement after you’ve separated from your spouse, it is really important to know what the property pool consists of and it is most important to speak to a financial adviser, an accountant or a lawyer as to what mix of assets you should retain and what financially your life will look like after separation. And so some of the initial inquiries we can make after having seen you and specifically what the pool consists of, is to undertake searches.

So, we can do company searches, which will show whether your partner is a director or a shareholder in private companies and we can also do title searches, which will show what properties are in your joint names or whether you have held those as tenants in common. And once we know this general information, we can then write to your spouse or their lawyer who is representing them and ask for them to provide documents. The Family Law Rules provide that they must provide documents such as tax returns, financial statements, business activity statements and the like. And once we have all of these documents, we can really sit down and go through all the documents and put together a detailed schedule of assets and liabilities that will include the companies that we have found, any trusts as well, or real properties.