If you are thinking of separating from your partner, or your partner has raised this with you, you can follow the following steps.
1. Marriage, family, or individual counselling may help you to find out whether the relationship has irretrievably broken down, or whether there is a chance for reconciliation. Counselling may help you and your partner to better your communication, intimacy, and other issues. Alternatively, counselling may help you to transition into separate lives in an amicable manner that reduces the emotional distress to yourselves and to any children.
2. If you choose to proceed with separation, it is important to protect the interests of yourself and your children whilst still complying with your duties to the Court- such as your duty of disclosure. We recommend protecting your assets and seeking legal advice.
3. You can also consider implementing the following steps.
- Keep a diary in which you have recorded the date of separation, which may be relevant to time limitations, and the calculation of post separation contributions.
- Consider whether you need to take any steps to protect yourself or the children during separation, and whether you hold any concerns about family violence.
- Place your mobile phone account into your own sole name so that your partner cannot access your phone records. You often need the authority of the account holder to facilitate this.
- Consider changing your passwords and backing up your devices to protect your personal accounts and information.
- Consider removing personal documents and information from jointly used computers.
- Consider whether you want to and can afford to remain in the home or seek alternative accommodation. Ensure that your mail is redirected if there is any change of address.
- Consider where the children should live, and who they should live with. It is generally considered that minimising disruption is best for the children, and therefore that they should remain in your former matrimonial home. However, what is best for the children may vary in your individual circumstances.
- Consider your financial situation. You may want to set up a bank account in your sole name and direct any income or pensions to be deposited into this account.
- Consider who is the registered account holder for any accounts used by the family, like internet, phones, utilities, subscription services etc. Ensure that the account is in the name of the person who will maintain the account after separation.
- Advise any joint accountants or financial advisors to maintain separate information and accounts moving forward.
- Work on collating your financial records, such as bank statements, tax returns, invoices, trust deeds, business activity and financial statements etc. Consider your duty of disclosure and your contributions.
As you move forward through separation, and the family law process, ensure that you are aware and complying with the pre-action procedures of the Court.