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Do you need a lawyer to help you with your property settlement?

Separation is a stressful, expensive and time consuming process.

If you separate from your partner, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible - you will need a lawyer at some stage during the process, whether to give you advice or review your documents. Its best if you know your rights upfront.

Even if you and your partner have agreed on all issues relating to the separation, such as who is to keep which property, frequently things can go wrong if you try and undertake the process yourself without any legal assistance. The reason for this is that there are many specific requirements that must be complied with for a property settlement to be valid. Property settlements usually occur by way of the parties entering into a binding financial agreement or obtaining consent orders.

Should the specific requirements that apply to each type of property settlement not be complied with, the settlement may be invalid and not legally binding. This means that some years after the parties come to an agreement, one party who feels that the settlement was not fair can come back and try to obtain more – essentially there is a risk that the agreement as to how the assets are dealt with is not final. An example of an issue that is often overlooked is that both parties generally need to get their own independent legal advice and obtain a certificate from a solicitor to this effect in order to for a binding financial agreement to be final (and binding).

There may be aspects of the process you can do yourself. If you are concerned about the costs of a divorce, you should speak to your lawyer about which parts of the process (if any) you could do yourself to minimise costs, and ensure your money is spent on the parts you cannot do.

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