After separation, life is often extremely emotionally and financially draining, and you might be wondering how to proceed. Legal separation in Australia can be confusing as it involves complicated legal procedures.
It helps to have guidance on what the most important matters are that should be addressed, especially in regards to parental arrangements and settling your finances. In the early stages of separation, it is very important to get legal advice if you don’t know how to proceed.
This article will discuss 7 general tips on what you need to consider after separation, even before you find a separation lawyer.
At Times Lawyers we have a lot of experience helping people in difficult family situations. Speak with our experienced Brisbane separation and divorce lawyers today.
1. Record the Separation Date
Recording your separation date is easy, but this simple step is often omitted, with its importance underestimated.
Why do you need to record the separation date?
You need to agree with your ex-partner when that date of separation was. When you apply for divorce, the Court will ask for the separation date from both parties. If your ex-partner disagrees, there might be a problem.
How do you record it?
Apart from writing it down yourself, it’s often better to have some form of written proof. It can be a text message, a Facebook conversation, an email chain, or even a lawyer’s letter. These ‘chat histories’ will become very powerful evidence to prove when the separation date is.
How important is this?
Extremely important, and even crucial in some situations. The Court uses the separation date to calculate time limitations. When it comes to an argument of whether a family matter is “out of time”, the proof of the separation date becomes one of the most critical pieces of information.
Our Brisbane separation lawyers can assist you in making sure you and your ex-partner have an agreed separation date.
2. Make living arrangements for yourself and your children
Should you stay and remain living in your place? Or should you move out? Are you taking your children with you?
In some situations, for example when your partner refuses to move out but you can’t stand your partner anymore, or when there is domestic violence, it might be a better option for you and the children to leave the house and move elsewhere. The action of moving out of the house does not mean that you’re no longer entitled to the property.
Particularly about children, the Australian Court places a high degree of focus on their welfare and interests. Take into consideration if the post-separation living arrangements are in the best interest of your children.
The property is important and your separation lawyer will deal with the legal side of things for you, but the most important thing now is your family’s safety and living arrangements.
Read here for all you need to know regarding property settlement, as it is a topic that often comes up in regards to separation.
3. Ask yourself: “After separation, will I have enough money to pay my bills?”
Now that you’re separated from your partner, you might find that the finances that you need are held and controlled by your ex-partner.
You may need to consider finding a new job to fund your living expenses, open a new bank account, taking out a credit card, or withdrawing from your joint account to sustain your living.
You need to consider whether it’s appropriate for you to withdraw money from the joint account. If you don’t, where do you get your finances from? And, is your ex-partner entitled to withdraw money from the joint account too?
You also need to find a separation lawyer. Are you able to afford the legal fees?
If cannot support yourself and your ex-partner has the capacity to contribute to your support, you may be eligible to claim for spousal support and maintenance.
4. Don’t let your partner take things you need for yourself
Rearrange your money and your bank accounts. If your partner has had access to your bank accounts, make sure that you change your passwords or even move your monies to a new bank account where your ex-partner will not have access.
Change all your passwords to your social media so your ex-partner cannot enter your accounts and do something you don’t like.
Change your delivery address for letters and statements that you do not wish your ex-partner to receive.
Renew your will. If you have an existing will, it’s quite likely that your ex-partner is your beneficiary. You might need to consider changing that to someone else if you don’t want to give your ex-partner all your estate properties and assets.
Similarly, update your Superannuation so your ex-partner is not entitled to your hard-earned superannuation money.
Speak with our separation lawyers in Brisbane to assess your financial position. We will work with you to find out what you’re entitled to, and what your rights are before you make any decisions.
5. Gather and keep important documents
It is vitally important and wise for you to keep at least a copy of all the legal and financial documents as a record.
These include [but are not limited to] :
- your marriage certificate
- your children’s birth certificates
- superannuation policy
- life insurance
- previous court orders (if any)
- any binding financial agreements
- your will and enduring power of attorney
- payslips, contracts
- guardianship documents
- trust deeds
- super fund documents
- loan documents.
This will be extremely helpful for your separation lawyer to assess your situation, and it will save you and your separation lawyer a tremendous amount of time (therefore, saving costs) finding or asking for those documents in the future.
For legal separation in Australia, it is most likely that you will go through a “Full and Frank Disclosure” stage. You will have to disclose all your financial information to your ex-partner, and vice versa.
Keeping these important documents in your own possession will only benefit you, but won’t harm you. Talk to our Brisbane separation lawyers who will let you know which documents you need for your circumstance.
6. Keep a detailed journal of events
This is often underestimated by many people.
Keep a journal of all the important events and conversations you had with your ex-partner. When did you break up? What did your ex-partner say? When did you or your ex-partner move out? Did your ex-partner threaten you and what was said? When were the locks at your home got changed? On which day were the police called?
If you keep a journal, recording events like these, you will have no problem recollecting major incidents in the future for your separation lawyer.
If the matter proceeds to the family court for litigation, those journals could be critically important.
7. Find a separation lawyer who you can trust
Family matters are sentimental. It’s difficult not to involve emotions. Memories, good and bad, play like movie clips in your brain and you find it hard to switch them off.
On the contrary, the legal separation process is a very civil procedure.
Therefore, it’s important to find a separation lawyer who, not only has family law knowledge but also understands your emotions and your circumstance. Your lawyer should be able to understand how you feel and understand what you wish to achieve and get it for you in a civil and legal way.
Be encouraged. Stay strong! Speak up.