Not knowing these steps could cost you tens of thousands of dollars and the welfare of your family.
So lets get started…
About 95% of our clients come to see us after they have separated.
Unfortunately, most people (about 85% in fact) wait months and sometimes even years following separation to see a family lawyer and they do so often after a climactic event which has caused them either emotional or financial stress.
By proactively engaging an experienced family lawyer, you will receive the benefit of some invaluable advice and we can give you the tools to avoid a disaster in the first place.
The way you conduct yourself post separation is pivotal to getting the best result for you and your family, remaining amicable and avoiding lengthy and costly litigation with your ex partner.
Follow our invaluable tips and advice of the steps you must take after you separate to get the most out of your separation, reduce conflict and enhance the prospects of resolving any sticky issues amicably, quickly and cost effectively.
Open a bank account or credit card in your sole name.
- Any auto pays that are in place on any joint accounts or credit cards;
- Cancel/move auto pays to individual accounts or credit cards;
- Close any joint accounts or credit cards;
- Have your pay paid into your personal account.
Are you in need of funds post separation to support yourself and your children? Are you afraid your ex partner won’t share their income with you after separation leaving you reliant upon governments benefits just to get by? Our TOP SECRET TIP to avoid this is to pull 50% of the funds in the joint account and transfer them to your own personal account to use for your living expenses. In circumstances where you use that money reasonably to support yourself and your family, we assure you that you won’t get into trouble for doing it.
2. Cancel your redraw facility on your home loan
If you have a mortgage or any other joint loan with your former partner, visit your bank to find out whether there is a redraw facility on any of these loans and cancel it.
Our TOP SECRET TIP: Ask your bank to amend the facility so that funds can only be drawn with the written consent of both parties to the loan.
If you don’t do this, you may end up being one of the 10% of clients that come to see us that have unfortunately had funds drawn down from their mortgage, thereby reducing your property settlement entitlements, and costing you thousands of dollars.
3. Make a note of your separation date
Agree upon your date of separation with your former partner. You will need your separation date to:
- advise relevant organisations such as Centrelink, the Child Support Agency and Medicare;
- apply for a divorce;
- arrange your financial affairs.
Our TOP SECRET TIP: Separation occurs when at least one person in the relationship makes the decision to separate, acts on that decision and tells the other person. Your partner does not have to agree. You can be separated and living in the same house, provided you have stopped living together as a couple.
4. Decide who will stay in the family home
Consider and agree with your ex-partner as to who will remain in the family home.
Our TOP SECRET TIP: If possible, we suggest that you remain in the home, particularly in circumstances where you are not working and/or the children will continue to live primarily with you as it will be less disruptive for them and yourself and it will reduce financial pressure associated with sourcing alternate accommodation, pending a property settlement taking place.
If you own your home, consider if one of you will buy the other out and remain in the home, otherwise, whether the home will be sold. If the home is to be sold it is in both of your best interests to work together to get the home ready for sale in order to get the best price possible.
You can choose to put a property on the market, even if you have not finalised your property settlement, as settlement proceeds can remain frozen in your conveyancer’s trust account, until you and your ex-partner agree upon how to divide those funds or until you finalise your property settlement and provide joint written instructions on how proceeds are to be distributed.
If you were living in a rented property and you have moved out, you should update your property lease, as if your name is on the lease then you are liable for unpaid rent or damage caused by your former partner.
If you are having difficulty agreeing with your former partner on who stays in the family home, then you should seek legal advice about your options. See our article: Who stays in the family home after separation.
5. Start gathering documentation for your separation
Start gathering the following documentation:
- Bank Statements
- Loan Statements
- Credit Card Statements
- Superannuation Statements
- Tax Returns
- Health Insurance
- Utility invoices
- Motor vehicle registrations
- Wills and Powers of Attorney
You will need all of the above documents as you start to arrange your financial affairs, separation and divorce. Having these documents readily available to you, your lawyer and your accountant will save you a lot of time, stress and money.
You should now be in a position to list out all the assets, liabilities and superannuation owned by you and your ex partner. Documenting this prior to a consultation with a family lawyer will assist us to provide you with prompt and clear advice about your rights and entitlements.
Did you know: the number 1 difficulty we have in advising our client’s about their rights and entitlements at an early stage is due to our client not having a clear picture of their financial situation and assets. This is made more difficult when their ex partner does not respond to our letters and/or refuses to provide their financial documents to us.
Our TOP SECRET TIP: If you are still in the family home, we recommend gathering all your financial documents before you leave as you may not be allowed back in to the family home after you have left. Whilst doing this, we highly recommend that you also take copies of your ex partner’s financial documents too. This gives us information we need about your asset pool in order to give you prompt advice in relation to your rights and entitlements.
Having your financial information and your ex partner’s financial information early in the piece allows us to progress your matter to a resolution quickly and cost effectively, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees.
For more information see – Your Free Separation Checklist.
6. Develop an Action Plan
Write yourself an Agenda as to what you need to do and a strategy as to how and when you are going to do it.
Our TOP SECRET TIP is that your to do list should include a plan of attack for the following:
a. Where you are going to live;
b. How you are going to pay the rental bond and rent in advance;
c. Open up a bank account in your sole name and cancel any redraw facilities on joint loans;
d. Apply for Centrelink and child support;
e. Acquire some funds to support yourself and the children;
f. Decide how you are going to protect your finances and your equitable interests
g. Change your passwords;
h. Change your will;
i. change your power of attorney;
j. change ownership of real estate.
Read more here:
If you have recently separated but you are not sure where to start and what to do to protect your assets and your family, contact us today to book a reduced rate initial consultation with our family law experts to get advice in relation to your individual circumstances and your rights.
Be one of the few people who come to us in the months following separation. We can help you the most if you come to us quickly by giving you strategically advantageous advice about what to do and what not to do following separation in order to avoid conflict and the emotional costs of separation whilst saving thousands of dollars in the process.