Note down your Separation date
The separation date will be relevant to property settlement, in the sense of whether contributions were made before or after separation. It is also needed when applying for a divorce.
De facto couples have 2 years from the date of separation to deal with their property matters.
For married couples, parties need to be separated for 12 months before applying for a divorce. After the divorce is granted, parties will only have 12 months to deal with their property settlement. Upon the expiration of the 12 months, special leave is required from Court. As such, it is recommended that you deal with your property matters and have them finalised prior to applying for a divorce.
Learn more about property settlement here.
Consider your living situation
It is best to avoid being in an unhappy living situation. If it is within your affordability, you could consider moving out. Where there are children involved, it is important to consider their needs. For instance, is the home close to their school and extra-curricular activities.
It may very well benefit the party who intends to keep the house as part of the property settlement to remain living there. You can ask for help from our expert property settlement lawyers to assist you with this matter.
Consider Child Custody
This can be as much of a stressful time for your children as it is for you. It is important to consider what is in the best interest of your child. It is worth informing your children’s school about the separation so that people in your children’s environment can offer them support. This would also be relevant if there are court orders in place.
If possible, try and work out temporary arrangements regarding where your children will spend their time, with which parent, and for how long. You could note this down in a parenting plan. It needs to be written, signed and dated. Note though, a parenting plan is not legally binding.
Alternatively, one of our experienced Family Lawyers in Melbourne can assist you in drawing up formal consent orders for child custody arrangements. This would be submitted to the courts and would be legally binding.
Keep your possessions and valuables with you
Make sure you have all your important documents with you such as passports, birth certificates, tax returns, financial documents and all other relevant documents.
Access to financial records is especially important, as this will be relevant in the process of property division.
Sort out your life administration
There is always a never-ending list of life administration to attend to. As your circumstances have changed, it is important to update things such as your Medicare card, name on utility bills, insurance policies and bank account details.
In terms of joint bank accounts, if you are concerned that large sums will be withdrawn without your consent, talk to your bank to see if they can change the account to require two signatures, or alternatively freeze the account until both parties agree otherwise.
It is also important to update your will. If you need assistance with that, we have experienced Family Lawyers in Melbourne who can help you with that.
Keep a diary of important conversations, events, agreed arrangements, important dates and any communication between each other.
Seek assistance and support
Don’t forget to seek emotional assistance and support from counsellors, family members, friends or community groups.