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Complex Property Settlements

Complex Property Settlements

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Some property settlements are just complex or complicated

Some family law property settlements are complex or complicated and these cases are of particular interest to James Bailey who is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law and the Partner who leads the Family Law team at Wallace & Wallace Lawyers. 

Getting advice early gives a person a better chance of managing the situation and conducting a risk assessment of what the potential problems are in a particular case and how the risks can be managed.

Issues that can make a family law matter complicated

Complex Structures (family trusts, companies etc)

In family businesses in particular you can often see families use companies or trusts to protect their assets or alternatively split their income.  How an asset is owned can have a major impact in relation to a family law property settlement, particularly if there are third parties involved such as parents or siblings of one of the parties.  In such circumstances it is important to get the right information and documents to fully understand who owns and controls that asset. Determining these issues will be crucial to determining what might happen in your particular circumstances.  Each case is unique and it is important to get early advice after separation.


Where one party owns a business, this will normally add some complexity to a property settlement.  It is important to get advice from an experienced family lawyer as soon as possible around the time of separation.  The financial circumstances of a business usually change and it is important to discuss how the business operates and provide as much information as possible to understand how the value may change over time.  Consideration can then be given about the advantages and disadvantages of that change.  Business values can change for many reasons and it is important to get accurate information and documents so you can understand the reasons why this occurs. Getting advice early is crucial so you can make informed choices.

Farms & Grazing Properties

In most property settlements where there are farms or grazing properties there is usually some level of complexity and complication.  The value of a farming or grazing property can change significantly over the course of a year or a number of years.  There are a number of factors which influence the value of the farming operation.  There are many factors which need to be considered including on occasions whether a crop is an income stream or an asset.  There is no substitute to getting advice early, even if the advice ultimately is to wait for some specific period of time or getting some documents before proceeding.

Large Amounts of Money (i.e. inheritances, injury payouts, gifts etc.)

Large amounts of money received such as inheritances, gifts, injury claim payouts, lottery wins, can each add considerable complication in relation to a property settlement.  The impact on the property settlement will be dependent on many issues including when the funds were received, how much was received and how the funds were used.  Each case is different and the weight given in the particular case will vary.  It is not just the amount received that matters, gathering documents about all of these issues is crucial in ensuring that the property settlement is just and equitable for the particular circumstances of a case. 

Valuation Issues

Getting assets valued can often not be straight forward and there are many issues which need to be considered when determining the correct value of an asset.  The instructions provided to a valuer are crucial in ensuring that the valuation is accurate.  Similarly it is important that once a valuation is received that the content of the valuation is carefully reviewed to ensure that the value reached is reasonable and defensible in the circumstances.

Disclosure Issues

The more complicated and complex a property settlement, the more likely it is that disclosure is needed to clarify particular issues.  Lawyers provide advice based on the evidence and often there are multiple documents needed to help clarify even one particular issue.  The more complex a property settlement is, the more likely it is that some unusual disclosure of documents may be required.  Appropriate management of disclosure by an experienced family lawyer is key to ensuring you get an appropriate result in relation to your property settlement.

No matter how much reading you might do or talking to friends, there is no substitute to getting comprehensive advice from an experienced family lawyer at the first possible opportunity. 

What is a Family Law Accredited Specialist?

An Accredited Specialist is a person who is recognised by the Queensland Law Society as being an expert in their field of law.  The program provides the general public with a reliable way to identify lawyers who have a high level of expertise in a particular area.  James Bailey, partner, is a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in Family Law and has practised as a family law lawyer since 2005.  James is the go to Accredited Specialist for family law in Mackay, Moranbah and surrounding regions.

An Accredited Specialist must meet the following criteria as set down by the Queensland Law Society:

  • Pass a comprehensive and rigorous examination process developed by legal professional experts to demonstrate they have the required knowledge and skills to be an Accredited Specialist in their chosen area.
  • Each year, to be re-accredited they must maintain a high degree of professional development in their area of specialisation.  Accredited Specialists have to do more study than other lawyers and in particular the majority of their professional development each year must be in their chosen area of speciality.
  • To be an Accredited Specialist they must have a minimum of five years full-time practice experience and a minimum of three years experience in their area of specialisation.
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