We’ve prepared a checklist of some things to think about in preparation for your separation:
- Obtain (if you can) copies of your and your partner’s financial documents, including tax returns for the last three financial years, recent pay slips, bank statements for all accounts, recent superannuation member statements, insurance policies, car registration papers and if there is a company or business, any documents in relation to that. Reason? Firstly, you and your partner are under an obligation to exchange financial information with one another as part of any financial property settlement. This can simply speed up the process if the information is all ready and available. Secondly, this information can help your lawyer to give you advice about what an appropriate division of the finances might be after separation.
- Consider cancelling any credit cards to which your partner is a secondary cardholder.
- If you’re concerned about your partner withdrawing significant funds from any joint bank accounts, the mortgage or any redraw facility attached to your home loan, you may want to ask the bank to put a stop to withdrawals above a certain amount without joint signatories. Alternatively, you may consider it appropriate to withdraw half of the funds in the joint account into an account in your sole name and tell your partner. You should consider this latter option carefully as it will undoubtedly have an impact on how future discussions flow with your partner.
- If you have children, you may want to consider making enquiries with Centrelink as to what government benefits, if any, you may be entitled to receive. Be mindful that this may trigger a child support assessment to be issued, meaning that you or your partner may be assessed to pay child support.
- Work out a budget of your weekly income and expenses averaged out over the course of 12 months.
- Update your Will, superannuation death beneficiary nomination, any life insurance policies and power of attorneys.
- Make a list of what you understand to be your assets, debts and superannuation of the relationship, including the estimated values of the assets and amount owed for each of the debts.
- If you’re leaving the home, you may want to consider arranging for the utilities to be transferred into your partner’s sole name if they are not already. Similarly, if you’re renting, you should consider having your name removed from the rental lease. Before leaving the home, we strongly recommend that you do seek legal advice as this can influence how things progress with your partner to settlement.
- If you have concerns about your personal safety or your children’s or even your partner’s, consider reaching out to your local support services for help, whether that be for crisis accommodation, domestic violence support or mental health support services.