10 Steps to take after separation
The decision to separate is not an easy one. We understand that a breakdown of a relationship can be emotionally overwhelming. Whether it is advice you are seeking before deciding to separate, or during the divorce stage, we can support you through the process. Navigating the aftermath of the breakdown of a relationship can be stressful and uncertain. If you are going through a separation or contemplating separating from your partner, it may help you to have the following information.
The breakdown of a relationship and separation is stressful and tumultuous. If you have recently separated, you should ensure that you have a support network of family and friends that can assist you during this time. It may even be helpful for you to receive support from a professional such as a counsellor or psychologist. If you are considering seeking professional support, you should speak with your GP to see if you are entitled to a free mental health plan through Medicare.
If you have separated from your partner and you had previously mingled your finances with them, you should notify your bank in writing as soon as possible that you have separated. You should also monitor your bank accounts regularly for any unexplainable transactions. If you have a joint account or redraw facility with your former partner, you should ask your bank to change the account so that they require two signatures for any withdrawals. If you do not have any bank accounts in your sole name, you might want to consider opening your own account.
If you have separated from your former partner, you should store your financial and other important documents (such as your marriage certificate, passports, etc.) in a safe place. You may wish to leave them with someone you trust or take them to your workplace. It is not uncommon for important documents to go missing after separation, so you should ensure that you are proactive in protecting these documents. If you have any valuables that carry significant monetary value or sentimental value, you should also consider securing these items in a safe place. Such items may include family heirlooms, jewellery, memorabilia or even pets. You shouldn’t take items that do not belong to you – speak to your lawyer about any items that you may be unsure about.
If you are going through a separation, you should change your password to your emails, social media accounts, mobile phone and other electronics. Some platforms allow for a dual authentication process so that it is more difficult for an unauthorised person to access your accounts. You should also change your PIN numbers, internet banking and telephone banking passwords to ensure that money can’t be withdrawn from your account by anyone other than yourself.
You should keep a diary of events and conversations with your former partner as you may need to tell your lawyer about these events, particularly if you are going through an acrimonious separation. Where possible, you should try to keep conversations with your former partner in writing, such as by text message or email. This will not only keep a documentary record of such conversations but may also assist to reduce hostility.
If you have separated and can no longer live under the same roof with your former partner or spouse, you should consider moving out of the home. Whether or not you live in your home after separation has no bearing on your legal interest and entitlement to the property however you should speak to a lawyer before moving out. If you have children with your former partner, you should discuss the living arrangements for your children with them. The best interests of the children are always paramount, and the Court will favour siblings staying together. You and your former spouse should decide who the children will live with and plan for the other parent to spend time with the children on a regular basis.
If you are receiving any benefits from Centrelink, you need to inform them of the change in your relationship status after separating from your former partner. You should contact the Child Support Agency to see whether you are entitled to receive payments from your former partner or spouse, especially if your children are living with you. The Child Support Agency collects payments which are to be made from one parent to the other.
If you have recently separated from your partner or are contemplating doing so, you should be fully informed about your rights and options before making any decisions. A lawyer will help to advise you what the road ahead looks like and what you can do to minimise any conflict that may arise in the future. Get in touch with our lawyers at Aston Legal Group by calling 8391 8411 and arrange a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your concerns before, during or after separation.