Separation Checklist Australia: 7 Essential steps
Separating from your partner can be an overwhelming and confusing process.
To make it easier, we have prepared this list called the “Separation Checklist Australia” that can help identify what you need to do and to make it an easier transition.
In summary, the 7 steps of the separation checklist Australia are:
- Confirm your living arrangements for where you will live after the separation
- Gather and keep your valuables in a safe place
- Find the relevant assistance and support
- Ensure you have the financial stability and independence
- Consider what will happen to joint bank accounts and assets
- Consider what will happen with child custody after separation
- Change your legal documents and policies
Where do I live after divorce?
This is one of the first questions we get when people approach us concerning their potential divorce.
A safe and suitable environment is vital during a separation.
You will have to decide if you will stay where you are currently living or move to a new residence.
If you are planning to stay, make a plan about covering mortgage repayments or rent.
If you choose to find a new residence to stay at during the separation process, consider the relevant costs and requirements for moving.
You will also have to consider the utility accounts (phone, internet, electricity, gas). Make sure to take your name off all utility bills if you plan to move out.
Keep your valuables with you
If you are moving out after separation, it is important to keep your valuable possessions with you.
We strongly recommend that you do this before moving out of the residence.
If you move out of your home and leave your belongings behind, try to arrange access to your things with your partner.
If you are unable to access your belongings or entry into your previous residence because of your partner, you can seek legal help about what to do.
Make sure to keep important documents with you.
Important documents include passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, tax returns, registration papers for vehicles, financial documents, and other relevant documents.
Passwords for emails, internet, and phone banking accounts, internet, and social media logins should be changed so that only you have access to them.
You should be the only person able to access your emails, as your email is the main form of contact with possible solicitors.
Find assistance and support immediately
Separation can be made easier with the relevant help.
This may involve speaking to counselors, therapists, lawyers, or community groups.
People often regard seeking legal help as daunting due to the costs involved. However, a separation is made easier with help by your side.
A family law solicitor can assist with keeping you properly informed, providing advice on the best pathways moving forward, and advise you on what your legal entitlements are.
There is a lot to consider during separation and a solicitor can help make sure you don’t miss anything or get stuck.
Ensure you have financial stability and independence
You need to ensure that you have money that you can use and access in a bank account that is in your sole name.
If you don’t have a bank account solely in your name, open a bank account in your name and have your pay distributed to that account.
You may qualify for help from the Department of Human Services in the form of different payments. There are different payments including parenting payments, child support, or a one-off crisis payment. You can check your eligibility for payments here.
If you are paying off a debt, you can contact your creditors and inform them about your circumstance and financial hardship.
What will happen to my joint bank accounts after separation
Joint bank accounts are considered a joint asset.
A joint asset means that it belongs to both you and your partner.
If practicable and with co-operation with your partner, you may be able to close joint bank accounts and redistribute funds.
If you have joint loans and guarantees, it is best to seek legal advice so that you are informed about how to deal with them.
You may be able to cancel joint credit cards.
Consider child custody after separation
If you have children, this is potentially the most important item on the Separation Checklist Australia.
You will have to consider what will be the arrangements for child custody after separation.
We understand that this can be tough, but you and your partner should work out temporary arrangements regarding where your children will spend their time, with which parent, and for how long. It is best to write these plans down.
You can arrange a parenting plan with your partner. A parenting plan is a written, signed, and dated agreement detailing the care and provision of a child. A solicitor can assist in making more formal arrangements known as consent orders.
More information about parenting plans can be found here.
We acknowledge that separation can be a difficult time for children. It is always best to keep at the forefront of your mind, “what is best for the children?”.
Other practicalities to consider include informing a child’s school about the separation and parenting arrangements.
Changing your legal documents and policies
Update any insurance policies that you have so that have the right cover.
Update your Superannuation details so that the payout is directed to a different beneficiary.
It is advised that you also update your will, as being separated does not cancel your existing will.
You should also update any powers of attorney that you may have.
A solicitor is also able to assist with wills and estate planning.
After finishing all the steps of the Separation Checklist Australia
It will be helpful to document key things such as communication between you and your partner, important dates, arrangements that are agreed to, and any information that may be regarded as important.
The Separation Checklist Australia is merely a summary and the separation process can be eased by seeking further help.
There are many resources available to you during this time. Finding a solicitor ensures that you have the right help by your side during the entire process
You can also check out our divorce checklist just to make doubly sure!
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.