This does not constitute legal advice.
When your relationship has broken down and you decide to separate from your spouse or partner, you face uncertain and challenging times - you are in new and unchartered waters. It’s likely that you feel overwhelmed by the reality that you now need to make decisions for your family independently. You know what your end goal is, but you may not see clearly how to get there or what you need to do to move forward. The choices you make need to protect your emotional and financial wellbeing for the short and long term – with the added pressure of the fact you only have one shot at doing it right, so make sure you do! If you are scratching your head and wondering what to do next, here are 5 practical steps to you should take:
Obtaining legal advice from a dissolution lawyer early on in the separation process is an important step for you to take. It means that you can make informed decisions about how best to progress without inadvertently jeopardising any future claim. Seeking legal advice gives you direction and a clear understanding of the issues that may affect you.
It’s a good idea to collate as many important documents as possible before you officially separate- your marriage certificate, land title documents, investment and trust documents, bank statements (personal and business), asset valuations, superannuation information and loan agreements – all assets that can be considered relationship property. Getting your ducks in a row before you leave helps your dissolution solicitor represent you efficiently (and more cost effectively!)
Money is typically the one area that separating couples disagree about. It’s important that you understand exactly what financial obligations you have and how they are going to be met in the short term. Your financial obligations can include the mortgage, loans, credit cards, vehicle lease, household bills etc. If you can, discuss this with your partner and make interim arrangements – remember, this isn’t forever, but just to carry you over. If you are unable to reach an agreement, your family law specialist will assist you.
The digital age that we live in means that a lot of personal information is stored online. Update your passwords for any personal accounts that you have – this includes e-mail, social media platforms and internet banking accounts. It’s important that you keep your personal information secure by choosing a password that is not related to any previously used; avoid children’s names, pet names or dates of birth, for example.
When a couple separates there are more than two people who will be impacted. If you can, discuss and agree with your partner about how, what and when you are going to inform your loved ones. This helps to lessen the impact, avoids putting people in awkward situations and can also help to make the separation more amicable. This is especially important if you have children.
Weston Ward & Lascelles are a Riccarton law firm highly experienced in helping people just like you who are separating from their partner. Our specialist family law team provide tailored advice for your unique situation so that you can get a robust and fair outcome. Contact us today to arrange an appointment.