Marriage Separation Checklist
What to consider when you are recently separated from your Partner.
- Seek advice from an experienced Family Lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to know your rights and implications for any decisions you make throughout the separation.
- Review your Will and any beneficiaries listed. If you do not have a Will look to have one drafted.
- Review any documents that list your ex partner as a Power of Attorney, beneficiary or authority.
- Contact your bank or financial institution regarding joint accounts. Consider how you can prevent any shared funds being accessed and/or joint liabilities being extended.
- Open up new bank accounts in your own name if you do not have these already.
- Reconcile you and your ex partner’s financial assets and documentation, including but not limited to bank, credit card and overdraft statements, tax returns, settlement statements on the sale and purchase of property, documentation of assets and insurance etc. Make copies and store them securely in a remote location.
- Review your superannuation beneficiaries and review if necessary.
- If you own property, do title searches and place caveats over the properties where applicable. For jointly held properties consider severing the joint tenancy.
- Update any applicable financial agreements such as rental agreements, utility bills etc. – you will still be liable for fees and damages if your name is still listed on these agreements.
- Locate, collate and copy important information such as your marriage certificate, passports, birth certificates, medical records and store them securely.
- Record the dates of your separation, details of discussions and interactions with your ex partner, and time spent with children. These can be used as proof of separation and in future legal proceedings.
- Have lawyers document any agreements that your reach with your ex Partner relating to finances or children residence arrangements. Doing so will help to ensure these are binding and enforceable.
- Redirect your mail to your new residence should you decide to move. If you are to remain under one roof, consider opening a PO Box to ensure easy and private access to your mail.
- Consider setting up a new email address, or changing passwords to your email or any online accounts (including banking passwords) that are shared or that your partner may have access to.
- Notify any relevant businesses or agencies of any relevant changes of details (employer, Centrelink, Insurance Companies, etc.)
- If you decide to live independently to your ex Partner, determine the living arrangements of the children based on their best interests and what is workable. If possible, the law will encourage children to have a close and meaningful relationship with both parents, unless circumstances mean this is not in the best interests of the child (i.e. violence, neglect or abuse). Family courts will also rarely condone children being split up.
- Notify Centrelink and the Child Support Agency of the changes in your domestic arrangements.
- Visit the Department of Human Services website to get an estimate of the amount of child support payable, and the Child Support Agency to find out how to receive/pay child support.
Your Property and Assets
- Seek legal advice as soon as possible to learn about your rights when it comes to you and your partners property and assets. Generally all property and assets will be considered as joint assets. Note that even assets acquired or received after you separate will be taken into account as part of the settlement negotiation.
- Determine your living arrangements – will you move or be separated living under one roof? It is important to know that moving out does not signal a change of property ownership, the law will still recognise your legal entitlements.
- Determine which items you will take when you separate – particularly items of sentimental value and heirlooms. Where practicable seek agreement from your ex Partner before taking these to avoid slowing down settlement negotiations in future.
- Where possible, come to an agreement with your ex Partner about how shared property and assets are to be divided.
- Locate and secure all personal financial and legal documentation, and/or any computers where this information may be stored.
- Consider any assets in your name that your partner is in possession of, i.e. car. You will still be liable if this property is damaged so ensure registrations and insurance is kept up to date.
Your Wellbeing and Safety
- Seek out counselling, whether it be marriage counselling with your partner if there is a possibility of reconciliation, or individual counselling to ensure you maintain your own wellbeing and have the emotional support you need. Family members may also need some outside support. Separation can cause a huge amount of stress on all of those involved.
- In cases where your personal safety is threatened, where family violence has occurred or is threatened, talk to your local Police station to seek an Intervention Order.
Please note: this is not intended to be a definitive guide to separation. These will vary depending on your own personal circumstances. We recommend you speak with an experienced Family Lawyer to determine the best course of action for your situation.