Your separation to do list

Separation, Divorce, & Relationship Matters

Your separation to do list

Our family lawyers have listed the top ten things you should consider doing if you have recently separated.

1. Secure bank accounts and open your own bank account

Contact your bank if you are concerned your money may be withdrawn or transferred by your former partner without your knowledge or consent. Put in place measures such as joint signatures on withdrawals to ensure your former partner cannot withdraw large amounts of money from accounts or redraw on home loans.

Depending on your circumstances it is often a good idea to open a new bank account in your own name and have your wage or income deposited into this new account for safekeeping.

2. Secure yourself electronically

Change your passwords on all email, Facebook, Linked In or other social media accounts in your sole name. This will prevent your ex-partner from accessing your private information.

Ensure that you turn off the location setting on your mobile phone to prevent your ex-partner from tracking your movements.

3. Gather Documents

Gather your personal documents including passport, bank statements, your Will, insurance policies, tax returns, superannuation statements, company documents including financial statements and tax returns. Take a copy of your marriage certificate or take the original. Take a copy of your former partner’s documents if you have access to them. The more information you have at separation, the easier your case can be.

4. Take or secure your personal and sentimental possessions

If you are leaving the family home it is a good idea to take with you all your personal possessions and any sentimental possessions. While it is not impossible, it is much harder to get things after you have left. Do not “strip” the place – just take what is reasonable.

5. Do a Budget and work out your needs

Now that your circumstances have changed you should review your budget. Can you support yourself? If not, can your ex-partner afford to continue to support you? If so you might be entitled to spousal maintenance. You may also be entitled to child support. Alternately you may be obliged to pay spousal maintenance or child support. Find out from a family lawyer how much you are entitled to receive, or are obliged to pay. Often these payments can be negotiated through a solicitor. It is also sensible to see a financial planner upon separation and get financial advice.

6. Update your Last Will & Testament and Power of Attorney

Update your Will and Power of Attorney. Being separated does not make your Will or Power of Attorney void. It continues in full force and effect until it is changed. This may not be what you want.

7. Secure your Assets

If your home is in your ex’s name alone, or in the name of a company or trust, talk to your family lawyer about whether you need to protect your interest in the property with a caveat. You may need to obtain an urgent injunction to prevent dealings with bank accounts, shares, investments or other assets. The idea is to put a freeze on assets whilst things are being sorted out.

8. Try to keep it peaceful

Avoid entering into confrontational discussions. Be respectful and unemotional. Calm and amicable discussions are most likely to result in a quicker and less expensive resolution to your matter. Make sure the children are not present when you have discussions about your legal matters.

9. Look after yourself

Separation is stressful. Make sure that you have support from your tribe – your family and friends. It is often a good idea to arrange some counselling with a professional who is experienced is assisting people through divorce. We can recommend you to the right counsellor in your area.

10. Most importantly – get legal advice!

It is highly recommended that you get family law advice early from a family lawyer to ensure you protect your rights and can make informed decisions. The earlier, the better, as a good family lawyer will be able to give you strategic advice to help you to navigate your way through the family law minefield in the most cost-effective way possible.

If you need advice on what to do after the breakdown of a relationship, our family lawyers can help you. Contact us for a 15 minute free assessment of your family law matter.

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