What To Do When You Separate
Look after yourself
Divorce can be stressful. Make sure that you have support from family and friends. It is often a good idea to arrange some counselling with a professional. We recommend that our clients seek assistance from the experienced counsellors at Centacare. They have offices across Queensland (and Australia).
Get legal advice
It is highly recommended that you get legal advice early to ensure you protect your rights and can make informed decisions. It is wise to get legal advice when you are contemplating separation or shortly thereafter.
Legal advice will assist you in dealing with financial issues, both immediate and long term, as well as telling you what is best for your children in your changed circumstances.
Secure bank accounts and open your own bank account
Contact your bank if you are concerned that funds may be dealt with without your knowledge or consent. Put in place measures such as joint signatures on withdrawals to ensure neither party can withdraw large amounts of money from accounts or redraw on home loans. Consider cancelling secondary card holder on credit cards. (You should obtain legal advice before doing this).
Depending on your circumstances it is often a good idea to open a new bank account in your own name and have your wage/income deposited into this new account for safekeeping.
Secure yourself electronically
Change your passwords on all email, Facebook, Linkedin or other social media accounts in your sole name. This will prevent your ex-partner from accessing your private information.
Ensure that you turn off the location setting on your mobile phone to prevent your ex partner from tracking your movements.
Take or secure your personal documents including passport, bank statements, Last Will and Testament, insurance policies, tax returns, superannuation statements, company documents including financial statements and tax returns.
Take a copy of your marriage certificate or take the original. Take a copy of the other party’s documents if you have access to them. The more information you have at separation, the easier your case can be.
Take or secure your personal and sentimental possessions
If you are leaving the home it is a good idea to take with you all your personal possessions and any sentimental possessions. Whilst it is not impossible, it is much harder to get things after you have left. You should not sell or destroy any property without the other parties permission. Do not “strip” the place – just take what’s reasonable.
Do a Budget and work out your needs
Now that your circumstances have changed you should review your budget. Can you support yourself? If not, can your ex afford to continue to support you? If so you might be entitled to spousal maintenance. You may be entitled to child support.
Alternately you may be obliged to pay spousal maintenance or child support. Find out from a solicitor how much you are entitled to receive, or are obliged to pay. Often these payments can be negotiated through a solicitor. It is also sensible to see a financial planner upon separation and get financial advice.
Update your Last Will & Testament and Power of Attorney
Update your Will and Power of Attorney. Being separated does not make your Will or Power of Attorney void. It continues in full force and effect until it is changed. This may not be what you want.
Secure your assets
If your home is in your ex’s name alone, or in the name of a company or trust, talk to your solicitor about whether you need to protect your interest in the property with a caveat. You may need to obtain an urgent injunction to prevent dealings with bank accounts, shares, investments or other assets. The idea is to put a freeze on assets whilst things are being sorted out.
Try to keep it peaceful
Avoid entering into confrontational or aggressive discussions. Be respectful and unemotional. Calm and amicable discussions are most likely to result in a quicker and less expensive resolution to your matter.
Make sure the children are not present when you have discussions about your legal matters.