24 Oct 10 things to do when you separate
The aftermath of the breakdown of a relationship can be difficult to navigate. This is why we’ve compiled a list of ten things you should do after separation to help point you in the right direction.
- Look after yourself.
The breakdown of a relationship and separation is stressful and difficult. You should ensure that you have a support network of family and friends that you can go to for help. It may be a good idea to get some counselling. You should speak with your GP to see if you are entitled to a free mental health plan through Medicare.
- Let your bank know that you have separated.
You should notify your bank as promptly as possible in writing and let them know you do not consent to any money being withdrawn from your accounts. You should check and monitor your bank accounts regularly. 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 have a joint credit card, you may want to consider putting a stop on this account to avoid your former partner racking up expenses. If you do not have any bank accounts in your sole name, you may consider opening your own account.
- Put your documents and valuables somewhere safe.
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 possible, take copies of your former partner’s documents too.
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, and memorabilia.
- Change your passwords.
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You should also change your PIN numbers, internet banking and telephone banking passwords to ensure that money can’t be withdrawn from your account.
- Change your Will and review your Power of Attorney.
Separation does not affect Wills. This means that your former partner will be entitled to your assets as a beneficiary if you pass away. You should ensure that your Will is current to reflect your wishes or, if you do not have a Will, you should have one drawn up. You should also consider revoking any Power of Attorney which appoints your former partner and nominate a new trustee. To read more about the importance of estate planning click here.
- Review your insurance policies and superannuation beneficiary details.
You should contact your insurer and superannuation fund to review who is listed as your beneficiary. You should ensure that you have updated your nominated beneficiary on your insurance policy and/or with your superannuation fund.
- Keep a diary
You should keep a diary of events and conversations with your former partner as you may need to tell your lawyer about these events. Where possible, you should try keep conversations with your former partner in writing.
- Consider living arrangements
If you can no longer live under the same roof with your former 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.
If you have children with your former partner, you should discuss the living arrangements for your children. 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 make arrangements for the other parent to spend time with the children on a regular basis. You may need legal advice and assistance in making parenting arrangements that are binding on you and your former spouse.
- Notify Centrelink and the Child Support Agency
If you are receiving any benefits, you need to notify Centrelink of the change in your relationship status. The Child Support Agency collects payments which are to be made from one parent to the other. You should contact the Child Support Agency to see whether you are entitled to payments from your former spouse especially if your children are living with you.
- Get legal advice
You should be fully informed about your rights and options before making any decisions. Get in touch with our team on 8391 8411 to book your free 30-minute consultation.