Here at AH2 Legal, we always get asked questions from people who are separating from their partners about what to do in their situations.
From our years of experience, apart from giving advice on the legal aspects of separation, we have taken note of some very practical things to consider when separating from your partner.
Here are the top 12 practical things to consider when separating:
1. Remain calm. We know it is easier said than done. However, it is very important to stay calm and remain cool headed to be able to think clearly in this time of confusion and stress. Don’t panic if your partner threatens to “take you for everything you’re worth,” says “you’ll never see your kids again,” or promises to “tell everyone at your office what a bad person you are.” Take some time to cool off and try not to talk to your partner when either one of you is upset.
2. You should make an appointment to see a Family Lawyer as soon as possible because knowing your rights early will help to protect you and your children, your assets and hopefully prevent Court action and help you reach an amicable solution. Seek advice about any financial or parenting agreements you reach because if it is not properly documented, it won’t be binding and enforceable. Assets acquired or received after separation will be taken into account in a settlement so consider getting legal advice sooner rather than later.
3. Usually, people choose to move out of their homes when separating from their partners. We understand that you might want to distance yourself from the sad and stressful situation. However, if you are safe, do not move out of your home without seeking legal advice as it is often best if you continue to remain living in your home.
4. If you choose to move out of your home, consider what personal items to take with you such as family photos, items of sentimental value and heirlooms. You should also take your personal papers and personal computer with you. Before leaving, make and keep copies of all the important personal documents together such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, citizenship certificates, medical records, bank records, superannuation statements and school reports.
5. Try to talk to your partner and see if you can agree on temporary arrangements for the children and the living arrangements during the separation. If the children are staying with you, set up arrangements for your partner to spend time with them. If your partner leaves with the children, try to set up arrangements as soon as possible to see them regularly and make sure that the children have your mobile number, so they can contact you.
6. If you move out of your home, lodge the necessary change of address notices as soon as possible and have your mail held or redirected. Do not rely on your partner to forward important mail to you unopened.
7. If separated but living under the same roof, then you might consider opening a post office box in your name, so that you can easily receive your mail without fear of it being opened by your partner.
8. You should set up a new email address if there is any chance your partner can access your current email address. You should also promptly change all your passwords to any other accounts your partner may have access to.
9. You should immediately change your passwords to any personal banking information your partner may have access to. Check and print out balances of all banking accounts, home loans, term deposits, investments, credit cards, and overdrafts. Keep an eye on account balances and any movements in them. You should also copy all your financial information and other important documents on your computer to a USB drive for safekeeping.
10. If your partner moves out of the shared home and takes a car registered in your name or joint names, you will need to make sure that the car remains registered and insured. As the owner of the car, you are still liable for losses if there is an accident.
11. If violence, harassment or intimidation becomes an issue, then you should call the Police immediately or go to your local Police Station to determine whether you should apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order.
12. Remember not to panic and rush into wrong decisions or making mistakes that could cost you further down the road. It is very important to remain calm, cool, and collected in order for you to think clearly about what you need to do at this stage of your life.
Separation is always hard and is a very stressful time for people. So, take some of that stress away by applying the above mentioned practical things to your situation and remember that whatever happens, help is just a phone call away.
Feel free to call one of our friendly lawyers at AH2 Legal at (08) 6161 0243 to make an appointment at your convenience.