Separation is generally a very difficult time for both you and your former partner. It is better to be prepared to the extent possible. Read on to learn about some of our practical steps to consider on a separation, compiled by our Divorce Lawyers Brisbane Team.
The following are items are a number of recommended steps for you to consider from our experienced Divorce Lawyers Brisbane Team. However, some of these steps may not be appropriate in your particular circumstances. We recommend that you take legal advice in regards to what is best for you.
- Keep a note of the date of separation and communicate that you are separated to your former partner: This step is always important; the date of separation bears upon when you may file an Application for Divorce or for de facto couples, the date by which you must if necessary file an application in Court seeking Orders relating to property or maintenance.
- Secure children’s passports and birth certificates: This will give you peace of mind where there is a risk that your former partner may try to take the children out of the country.
- Remain in the marital home: You do not lose your rights to property settlement if you do leave the home. Practically speaking, you may need to leave the home if domestic violence is involved and your partner will not leave. However, if this is not a factor, it may be better for you to remain in the home, particularly if the children are living with you and this is less disruptive for them.
- Counselling: Consider counseling for both you and your children.
- Ensuring that you have funds: Consider securing a sum of money from your own sources or joint sources to meet likely initial expenses that you will have, for example, any accommodation costs and the cost of obtaining legal advice.
- Protect your finances: Where your salary is credited to an account to which your former partner has access, consider redirecting your salary to an account which only you can access. If there is any redraw facility on a joint loan account or a joint line of credit, dependent on your circumstances, consider notifying the Bank that you require that any further draws are only made with the prior written consent of you both. If you are the primary holder of a credit card and your former partner is the secondary holder, consider also drawing sufficient funds on your loan account or line of credit before requiring joint authorities to do this so that you can pay out any outstanding balance on the credit card. Dependent upon your circumstances, you may also wish to consider cancelling the secondary card. It will be important to ensure that any jointly held investments may not be sold except with joint authority.
- Changing title registrations: Consider whether the title registration of any jointly held real property should be changed from a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common.
- Property held solely in the name of your former partner: There are measures which may be taken to protect your interests. You will generally wish to ensure that property is not sold or further encumbered before final agreement for division of property is reached. Contact our Divorce Lawyers Brisbane Team for advice regarding how this may be done.
- Changing passwords: You should also consider changing your internet banking passwords and your password for any investments held whether in your sole name or jointly (for example, unit trusts) or for access to information concerning your superannuation or insurance policies.
- Protect your data: Consider changing your password on your computer or other software and ensure that your documents are protected.
- Secure or take your important financial documents and medical records. Contact us for advice regards details of documents that you will need.
- Nominated beneficiaries: Consider any changes you wish to make to nominations made on your superannuation or insurance policies. You may have previously nominated your former partner as beneficiary of these policies in the event of your death.
- Obtain independent legal advice regarding family law matters: We recommend that this is done at an early stage. It will be important to ensure that you do not unwittingly prejudice your position. Our firm will try to settle client matters without going to Court. We do this through negotiation or attending mediation with you and the other party. Once there is agreement in principle, it is very important that that agreement is documented in a manner which is final and binding. This may be done by way of a Consent Order issued by the Court but without the need for you to attend at Court.
- Consider obtaining financial advice from your accountant regarding tax obligations, including any outstanding tax obligations and any obligations that you may have as a director of any company that you and your former partner own or as a partner in any family business. Consider also obtaining financial planning advice, including regarding how it may be best for you to receive your property entitlement and how to then deal with those assets that you receive or retain.
- Consider obtaining estate planning advice, including whether you should make another will (since separation does not revoke an existing will); make an Enduring Power of Attorney or revoke an existing one where your former partner is appointed attorney and will otherwise continue to have control over decisions regarding your health or financial affairs.
- If you have children, contact the Department of Human Services Child Support to find out if you or your former partner are eligible to receive child support. This should be done as soon as possible as any assessment that is made will only apply from the date of an application for child support.