If you recently separated or are contemplating separating from your spouse there are some important things that you should consider doing to protect your interests from a family law perspective and also to avoid added stress in what is already a distressing and highly emotional period in your life. At Cox West Lawyers we offer specialist family law advice and are able to assist you through this difficult process. Our lawyers have a vast degree of experience is assisting people who have or are contemplating separation from their spouse. In our experience, there are a number of things that people can often overlook doing which can have significant consequences down the track.
Here are a few tips on things you should consider doing on or before separation:
1. If you and your partner only have joint savings accounts, you should consider opening a new account in your sole name and redirect your pay and any other benefits into this account.
2. You should regularly monitor all joint accounts and where possible, contact your bank to stop any re-draws or draw downs on any joint loan accounts.
3. You should remove your spouse as a secondary card holder for any credit cards in which you are the primary card holder.
4. You should change all passwords, PINS and other important information regulating your access to your personal information including email accounts, banking, Facebook and the like.
5. You should make copies of all important documents relating to you and your spouse’s personal and financial affairs. This should involve making copies of bank records, superannuation statements, tax returns, share certificates, employment information, documents relating to the purchase or sale of real estate, financial records of a company or trust which you or your spouse have an interest in and documentation relating to loans and other debt held.
6. You should remove from the family home important documents such as, Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate, Passports and Certificates of Title for any properties owned.
7. You should also remove sentimental items (e.g. photographs, jewellery, gifts from family/friends) from the home to a safe storage place.
Access to Benefits
8. You will need to consider whether it is necessary to apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) for an assessment of child support, should there be children of the relationship. You can access information regarding child support including obtaining an estimate of the child support payable by your spouse by visiting the Child Support Agency website
9. Similarly, you may need to enquire with Centrelink for access to any Centrelink benefits that you may be eligible for including the Parenting Payment. You can access information by visiting the Centrelink website:
10. If you are no longer able to remain in the former matrimonial property, then you should make enquiries about securing alternate accommodation. This may involve speaking with family or friends about whether you can seek temporary accommodation or you may wish to meet with local real estate agents about finding a suitable rental property to move into.
11. In the event that you do relocate, then you should ensure that you re-direct your mail either to your new address or another secure address.
12. If you hold concerns for your personal safety and/or the safety of your children, then you should approach your local police station for advice on ways to protect yourself. Remember that your safety is paramount and you should do everything necessary to remove yourself and your children from potentially dangerous situations.
13. Any event of separation is likely to be an emotional and potentially traumatic experience. You should therefore ensure you have access to support persons who can provide you with guidance and assistance during this difficult period. There are a wide range of professional support services available to assist including the Family Relationships Centre (FRC) which is a government funded organisation that provides counseling and other support services specifically targeted at separated couples. The FRC also provides access to parenting programs and family dispute resolution when there are disputes concerning the custody arrangements of children. You can obtain further information regarding the services offered through the FRC
14. Lastly, in most cases you should seek legal advice at an early stage to get advice on your options and guidance about the legal process. At Cox West Lawyers we have a team of family law solicitors who offer specialist legal advice on all aspects of a family law matter including parenting and property matters, divorce and child support. We offer all new clients a free initial consultation with no obligation. You can contact us on 1800 647 023 or request your free family law appointment here.