What to do when you decide to separate?

Karina Ralston

If you are considering a separation from your partner, whether you decide to proceed or not, it is imperative you seek the advice of professionals including lawyers and accountants. Seeking this advice will ensure you are sufficiently informed about issues and possible actions that need to be taken, particularly in regard to financial matters, should you decide to proceed with the separation.

Some matters to consider prior to or shortly after separation include:

Your finances

Often it is the case that one party works whilst one stays home, or otherwise earns a minimal income.  The parties’ savings are generally held in an account in one of the parties’ names, or jointly where either party can remove it without notice to the other.  We often see situations where a party will remove all monies from the joint account or prevent the other party to access money shortly after separation, affecting their ability to pay the mortgage, bills and groceries.  Therefore it is important that individuals consider their financial position at separation, particularly if it may be difficult to access an account or seek income from the other party.  Whilst there are provisions for spousal maintenance and interim property settlement in the Family Law Act, it can sometimes be time consuming and costly to apply to the Court for those Orders to be made. Therefore, should you foresee that it would be difficult to access money in the intervening period, it is important that you set yourself up prior to separation.

Financial Disclosure

In circumstances where parties either go to Court, or agree to a settlement, it is necessary that they provide full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances to the other party. This will include the provision of bank statements, details as to superannuation and any other income or asset that is in the parties’ names. Therefore, it is important that you have access to that material at the time of separation and have a rough idea of the assets and liabilities of the relationship, in case it becomes necessary at a later date to seek specific documents that are not provided. We often advise our clients to take with them, upon separating, copies of all financial records relating to the assets and liabilities of both parties in order to be certain that all assets are known and will be included in the assets pool. 

Ultimately, the people who seek family law advice prior to separating are in a better position where they are informed and aware of the implications of their actions, prior to making the decision to separate. They are then equipped to make the best decision for themselves and their children in order to resolve the issue quickly and effectively.

Should you or anyone that you know wish to seek legal advice in relation to these issues, please contact our experienced family lawyer:

Karina Ralston, Associate
Phone: +61 2 9895 9296