Decided to Separate? What Now?

By September 16, 2019Family Law

If you have made the hard decision to separate from your partner, you may be feeling overwhelmed about what to do or how to start the separation process. Our Family Law team are experienced at guiding people through this difficult period and have compiled a few points that we recommend you consider.

Keep a record of your actual date of separation

The actual date of separation is very important to record. There are time limitations that need to be considered when dealing with the breakdown of a relationship. For example, if you are married, you are required to be separate and apart for 12 months before applying for a divorce. If you are in a defacto relationship, you only have 2 years from the date of separation to commence any property settlement in the court. To eliminate any uncertainty, record the date of separation in your diary, calendar or notebook or keep records of the lease of new premises you rent, the removalist invoice or other non-controversial documents evidencing one party moving out of the joint home.

Privacy and Security

While you may not have trust concerns with your ex-partner we still recommend that you take care with your privacy and the security of your personal information and finances.

For example:

  1. Change your passwords on your computer/laptop.
  2. Change your passwords on all web-based email accounts – or establish a new email account.
  3. Change your passwords on internet banking.
  4. Ensure that your antivirus software is up to date.
  5. Call your Internet Service Provider or a private computer consultant to review your computer and other electronic devices (i.e. iPad/ laptops and other smart phone devices) as you may have had shared settings and authorities – you need to check that these privileges have been revoked/ removed as in some instances documents and emails may have been copied from one computer to another.
  6. Create password protection on documents.
  7. Delete temporary internet files (or cookies).

Secure or take any small items of importance

This isn’t a case of “grab what you can”. We simply recommend that you secure or take with you any items of property that are of particular sentimental importance or value to you.  Securing these items now will avoid the need to have to chase them down at a later time.

Having them in your possession doesn’t mean that they won’t be considered in the value of a later property division but at least they are in your possession and control and you have the security of knowing they will not be ‘lost’ or ‘misplaced’.

If you aren’t able to take items with you because there is simply too much or they are too large it can be useful to create an inventory of (and perhaps photographs of) furniture and other valuable property.

Be cautious online

Be cautious about the information and images you post on social media sites and the statements that you may make in writing in emails to your partner and third parties. A good rule of thumb is not to write anything or post anything that you would not want to see published on the front page of a national newspaper

Your financial situation

It’s important to be aware that you may be required, as part of the broader obligation of disclosure, to release your bank statements. Therefore, it is very important to have a good understanding of your financial situation and what you will be liable for such as joint credit cards, loans and mortgages. In situations where one party to the relationship was responsible for taking care of the finances the other may need to do some digging to get a clear picture of their own financial situation and their own personal exposure to the payment of debts to banks, mobile phone providers, electricity companies and other creditors.

If you would like further information or advice in relation to separation, divorce applications, property settlements or any other aspect of family law, please contact our team on 07 4671 6000 to book an appointment.