Property Settlement Deliberations: Items to Collect

Items to collect for your property settlement when separating

  1. Personal effects - Your separation may not go as planned and your personal effects, unless collected and kept safe, may fall in the hands of your uncooperative ex-partner. Those items may be of sentimental value, be difficult or inconvenient to replace or be expensive to replace in the event they are not returned. Further, in the context of a property settlement personal effects are probably not of very significant value and accordingly the Court is not likely to be particularly interested in the injustice of you being deprived of them.
  2. Bank statements - Most people file their bank statements away for later accessing when preparing tax returns, applying for finance or in some cases because we are not sure what to do with them. The point is on separation there is usually a bundle of these documents which can be collected or copied for future reference. Not collecting them at the time can be a costly mistake as some financial institutions charge up to $10 per page for replacement copies.
  3. Credit card statements - Credit card statements, similarly, are useful financial records in almost every property settlement dispute and should be collected while it is convenient to do so. They show details of income and expenditure patterns, lifestyle, the location of the cardholder at any given time and other potentially useful information.
  4. Credit cards - Credit cards should be collected, including subsidiary credit cards on a main account, to prevent misuse by your ex-partner in the future. While your ex-partner may not be able to sign your signature, possession of the card may allow them to make internet transactions, phone transactions or with the use of a pin number withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine.  
  5. Financial records - At the time of separation it is not always obvious what issues are going to arise, therefore obtaining originals or copies of all financial records available may assist in providing evidence. The documents to collect include tax returns, notices of assessment, business records, company records, family trust documents, loan documents, cheque books and bills paid. 
  6. Insurance policies - Insurance policies are useful documents in a property settlement as they record assets that the parties consider valuable at the time of taking out the policy. They often have valuation figures attributed to those assets, for example it can be difficult to deny the existence of certain pieces of jewellery or their value when they are specifically referred to on a home contents insurance policy.

  7. Pay slips and employment contracts - Payslips and employment contracts are often not stored with other financial information but are critical records as they show precisely the amount of income received or to be received for a particular period and accordingly can be used to verify earning capacity or actual earnings at a given time. 
  8. Medical records - Medical records, details or reports of medical treatment and any medication required should be carefully collected. Medication may be immediately needed, but is often overlooked in a haste of leaving. Medical records may be required for future treatment and could be necessary to establish to the Court for future needs as a result of an existing medical condition.
  9. Photographs - Personal photographs are one of the few items in a property settlement that may genuinely be irreplaceable if left behind. Care should be taken as to the location of the photographs and making sure they are kept safe after they have been stored. 

  10. Any written agreements or records of discussions - Any documents that record agreements made or records of discussions between you and your spouse, whether or not those agreements have actually been carried out, may be vital documents in establishing what the position of each of you was at a given point in time. Those documents may also be useful in future settlement negotiations. 
  11. Computer or computer files - Many cases have swung upon the contents of a personal computer which contains vital information. Emails stored on a personal computer and forgotten, can provide vital evidence of events and communications in the history of a relationship. Care should be taken as to whether or not that information should be left available to your ex-partner in the event of a separation.

  12. Communication with Armstrong Legal - Communication with Armstrong Legal for the purpose of obtaining legal advice is protected by legal professional privilege. This means the content in these documents can not be used against you in any legal proceedings unless you waive or give up that privilege. If you leave a copy of those documents around where they can be accessed by your ex-partner it may be argued that by your conduct you have waived the legal professional privilege attaching to those documents. You may also give up any strategic advantage that those documents may advise you about. 

You should feel free to contact the Armstrong Legal team if you require advice as to your specific situation. Our advice can be provided free of charge and at no obligation to you, but should be kept confidential. 

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