Contemplating separation? Here are some matters to consider
If you are contemplating separation or should you have already separated, it is important to take action in the early stages to ensure that you preserve your financial position moving forward into the future. Although during our initial meeting with our Clients we formulate a tailored Separation Action Plan, some of the common matters that are often discussed in such meeting include:
1) Ensuring the safety of you and your family – Should you or another family member be at risk of harm by your former spouse, you may be able to seek a Protection Order against your former spouse and possibly an Ouster Order to remove him/her from the family home. We are able to assist in providing advice regarding your prospects in this regard, however, in urgent circumstances, you should immediately contact the Police;
2) Preserving your entitlements –
- Should your former spouse hold real estate in their individual name and you have concerns that they may sell such real estate, it is possible that you may lodge a Caveat over the property to prevent your former spouse selling the property, or otherwise dealing with it, including borrowing further monies against the property. It is important to remember that there are time limits regarding the lodgement of a Caveat and the initiation of Court proceedings soon after, upon which you will require further legal advice;
- You should contact your superannuation fund to advise of any changes to your nominated beneficiary, as should you have your former spouse named to benefit from your Fund in the event of your death, you may wish to reconsider;
- You should consider making a new will, as you may wish to reconsider the terms of same should your former spouse be named as a beneficiary;
- Should you hold real estate as joint tenants, which effectively means that should one party pass away, the surviving party automatically benefits from their interests, you should consider severing the joint tenancy. Once severed, the real estate will be held as tenants in common, which effectively means that either party can leave their interest in the property to whomever they wish pursuant to their Will;
3) Income –
- Should your income be deposited into a joint account, you should consider opening an individual account into which your income would be deposited. It is important to be aware of any automatic direct debits that may be already taken from the joint account and you should seek early legal advice regarding what is appropriate in your circumstances, when it comes to sharing expenses, for instance with the family home, following separation;
- You should contact Centrelink and inform them of your separation and to inquire as to any benefits to which you may be eligible;
- Should the Child/Children of the relationship be living with you, you should contact the Child Support Agency to lodge a case as an assessment of child support may then be undertaken. It is important to note that child support is payable from the date of a case being lodged with the Child Support Agency and not the date of separation.
4) Bank Accounts –
- It is quite often the case that following separation, parties have financial difficulties in supporting two households. On occasions, your financial institution is able to assist in reducing your mortgage repayments or suspending same for a short period and it is important that you speak with your financial institution sooner rather than later;
- It is important to be aware of the limit on any credit cards, loan accounts or the like so as to avoid your former spouse drawing down further monies upon same upon which you may be ultimately held liable. You should contact your financial institution to make queries early in the separation and seek legal advices concerning appropriate steps to be taken;
- Should there be monies remaining in a joint account and you require monies for your living expenses, it may be appropriate for you to access such monies. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to withdraw a portion or all of the said monies for use for living expenses, however, each situation is different and you should seek legal advice before taking such action. Such action may fund your living expenses in the short-term, however, it can potentially drive a further wedge in between you and your former spouse which can cause difficulties in negotiations.
5) Personal Documentation and Sentimental Items –
- It is important that on separation you gather all your personal documentation and those of the Children, including documentation such as Birth and Marriage Certificates, Passports and the like. On occasions, people will store such items outside of the family home, with a trusted friend or family member;
- In regards to financial documentation, it is important that you gather copies of bank statements, superannuation statements and other financial documentation of the relationship due to your future disclosure obligations as your matter progresses;
- Quite often sentimental items, such as photographs can go missing or become damaged in the separation process, considering that spiteful actions are unfortunately common place in separation and it is important that you remove such items to prevent this occurring.
Should you need assistance with tailoring a Separation Action Plan specific to your needs, please contact our office for a reduced rate initial consultation for $220.00.