Written by MBA Lawyers Family Law expert Joelene Seaton

Tips to prepare for this unsettling time

It’s not surprising to learn that many people usually think about ending a relationship for months or even years before they decide to do so.

The rollercoaster of emotions that one feels in the lead up to deciding to separate can be a precursor for what is not always a smooth ride in the transition from coupledom to singledom.

There are, however, a few things that you can do to set yourself on the right track and gain some control in what is likely to be a very unsettling time.     

  1. Collate documents and information

Typically in relationships, one spouse has handled the finances and the other spouse has been more or less kept in the dark.

If you are the spouse who knows everything about the finances, then you need to start gathering documents to verify the finances.

This includes bank statements, tax returns, superannuation statements, loan balances and financial statements for any companies or trusts.

If you are the spouse who knows little or nothing about the money side of things, now is the time to start learning.

Contacting the bank and your accountant is usually a good place to start.

If there are documents stored at home, you should take copies of them. 

2. Secure your finances

Until the terms of the property settlement are determined, there is an obligation on both parties to preserve the property that is in dispute.

However, because not everyone does the right thing you should think about taking steps to protect yourself from your spouse’s potential wrongdoings.

This might include registering a caveat, transferring money from a joint bank account into your own, freezing mortgage redraw facilities, cancelling credit cards or safely storing items of sentimental value.

If you take such steps, then it courteous to immediately notify your ex; as difficult as the conversation may be, in the long run your ex would prefer to receive an up-front explanation as to why you’ve done what you’ve done, rather than be caught by surprise when they go to the ATM and discover that half the bank balance is gone.  

3. Plan for the future

Too often people get caught up in the raw emotions of separating, that they can’t see the wood for the trees.

Think about what you would like your life to look like after the property settlement is done; not only in terms of your financial position but also the quality of your familial relationships and your mental health and wellbeing.

By setting yourself goals, you will have some direction and after everything is said and done, give yourself a better chance of looking back and being proud of the way you handled yourself.

Sometimes the grass can be greener on the other side.

4. See a lawyer

Everyone knows someone who has been through a separation.

It is usually stories emanating from the messiest splits that people like to share.

Avoid getting caught up in the negatives. Turn to your friends for emotional support, not legal advice.

Seeing a lawyer – ideally a family law specialist – early on will help to alleviate your worries and give you the insight to confidently move forward to your end goal (see goal setting above).   

For more family law advice or to book a free initial consultation contact Joelene Seaton.