What are the steps you should take if you are considering separating from your spouse?
In the lead up to separation, there is usually a fair bit of conflict between spouses. It is a stressful time for all involved, particularly where there are children in the relationship. In the midst of the parents’ separation, children can often get caught up in the conflict. For the couple, however – it is one of the most stressful events to occur in their lives. In addition to feeling the emotional strain, you will likely have an innumerable amount of questions running through your head ranging from what happens with your finances and property to who gets “custody” of the kids!? Both are important (and understandable) questions to have!
First things first – BREATHE! Take it one step at a time. If you are planning to separate from your spouse, consider what are your priorities in the event of a separation. If it is your safety or the safety of your children, consider what steps you need to take to ensure this is safeguarded. If this means contacting the police, do not hesitate to do so – your safety and the safety of your children is the highest priority. Otherwise, there are other services to assist with combating family violence such as White Ribbon Australia (1800 737 732) or DV Connect (1800 811 811). If you wish to obtain a protection order and require the assistance of a lawyer, please contact us today! It is one of the areas we specialise in.
Second – consider seeing a counsellor or otherwise consider whether your children need to attend upon a counsellor to process any of the emotions that they (or you) might be feeling. Whilst emotion is important to empower us to act, it can also cause us to act impulsively to our detriment. Obtaining counselling with the right counsellor can assist with making clear decisions relating to your separation. One of the benefits of retaining our firm is that we can refer you to counsellors (who we work closely with) who specialise in family and separation counselling. We want to help you navigate not only the legal issues but also processing the stresses and anxiety that comes with separation.
Third – if your relationship is one where you are the homemaker and/or primary caregiver for the children and your other half is the primary income earner, consider what steps you need to take so that you have money to support yourself and/or your children in the event of a separation. Does this mean contacting your bank to obtain funds or prevent funds from being disbursed by your other half? If you plan on leaving the family home after separation, you should consider if there are any relatives or friends you can live with until you can find a place for yourself. Alternatively, do some research on the likely rent you would have to pay if you moved into a rental accommodation. That will inform you how much money you might need to secure before leaving the home.
Fourthly, consider changing the passwords to all your online banking accounts, emails, superannuation and other accounts, particularly if you intend to obtain legal advice without your spouse knowing. You should also consider how you pay for an initial consultation with a lawyer as that might tip off your spouse and cause a sudden emotional outburst placing either you or the children at risk.
Finally, obtain legal advice! The value and insight of obtaining legal advice before separation cannot be understated. Prevention is better than cure. We can help you identify all of the steps that you need to take so that your separation occurs as smoothly as possible or so that you are in an advantageous position in the event of a separation. The above five steps are only scratching the surface of what you might need to do to prepare for a separation; every situation is unique and might involve undertaking more extensive steps.
If you are thinking of separating from your spouse or partner, contact us as soon as possible. We will sit down with you and navigate you through the legal minefield. Let us help you help yourself!
NB: Please note that the contents of this article do not constitute legal advice. It contains information only of a general nature that may not apply to your circumstances. If you wish to obtain legal advice about your separation, please contact us to organise a consultation.