Separation is not only stressful and emotionally draining, but also brings up a range of legal issues. The Separation Checklist provides a basic guide of the inital steps you should take immediately following separation.

Note the Date of Separation

Make a note of the date of separation, this will be important for legal purposes. For example, you will not be able to get divorced unless you can show that you have been separated for 12 months. It is helpful to clearly communicate to your ex-partner that the relationship is over to prevent any misunderstandings. This can be done via email, text or face-to-face (if it is safe to do so).

Announce Your Separation

Consider who you need to inform of your separation. Generally, it is advisable to communicate your separation to:

  • Your friends and families;
  • Your Bank; and
  • Any relevant government agencies e.g., Centrelink.

Separate Your Money

It is important to separate your finances from your ex-partner, you should

  • Cancel joint credit cards;
  • Direct your income into your sole accounts;
  • Contact your bank to take measures to prevent your ex-partner from emptying joint accounts or squandering joint savings;
  • Cancel automatic payments for bills and mortgage repayments; and
  • Discuss any future joint expenses with your ex-partner e.g., mortgage repayments.

Change Your Passwords

It is a good idea to change your passwords and pin numbers after separation to ensure that your ex-partner has no longer has access to your private information or accounts.

Get Legal Advice

It is important to seek competent legal advice following separation. Although legal advice can be costly, getting accurate legal advice early on will help clarify your rights and prevent mistakes or misunderstanding which may lead to prolonged litigation.

Make Arrangements for Your Children

If you and your ex-partner have any children, you will need to discuss the future arrangements for the care of the children. You will need to consider:

  • Who the children will live with and how much time they spend with each parent.
  • Who will pay for the children's expenses e.g., school fees and medical bills.
  • Whether you are legally entitlted to pay to receive child support.

Compile Your Financial Records

For example, evidence of property titles, copies of payslips, employment history, tax returns, bank statements, superannuation statements, copies of shares or trusts, and copies of mortgage statements. This documentation will be relevant if your case goes to Court.

Update Your Will & Life Insurance Policies

If your ex-partner is a beneficary under your will or life insurance policy you should update these documents, otherwise your ex-partner may receive their full benefit under your will or life insurance policy if you die.

Although, a divorce order will automatically revoke your ex-spouses right's under the will, it is advisable to update your will prior to this as there may be considerable time in-between spearation and divorce.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided above is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice.