The end of a relationship is a traumatic time for anyone. It’s difficult to think properly and you may not want to think about anything practical. You may even hope that it will all be a bad dream and everything will go back to normal. But this may not happen.
You need to look after yourself and set yourself on a course to ensure you are financially and emotionally protected going forward.
Part of that process is to sort out a few simple financial matters – they may not seem important now, but down the track they could prove invaluable. And this applies equally to men and women who are separating.
Here’s a list of things to do as soon as possible:
- Make a list of all your assets and debts – split them between those in your name, your partner’s name and in joint names.
- Block your joint bank accounts and credit cards – just in case your partner does something without your approval and you’re left unable to pay rent, etc.
- Ensure your salary and any other income goes into an account only you can access.
- Make sure you’re not the only one paying the mortgage, car payment or utility bills.
- Get copies of tax returns, credit card statements, investment accounts, utility bills, bank statements, insurance policies, super accounts, etc.
- Update your Will – and if you don’t have one write a Will immediately.
- Lastly, see what you can afford and set a budget – it may help decide whether you can buy your partner out of a property or whether you can afford a new one.
Agree your Separation Agreement early with your partner
Next, try to agree a financial Separation Agreement with your partner – as early as possible, when you first separate. You may be on good terms with your partner and the separation may be amicable. So, in case this does not last, agree what you can, early and quickly.
On the other hand, either or both of you may still be raw, angry and upset about the decision to separate. So it may be difficult. But investments may change in value, liabilities may grow – so you are best to try to quantify and agree these as soon as possible.
You’ll also save a lot of money by doing some of the work yourselves – listing your assets and liabilities, agreeing your financial split as much as possible between yourselves. Even if you can’t agree on everything, agree on as much as you can. Your lawyers will cost you more, the longer they spend sorting it out for you. And remember, this will eat up any savings you both have.
There’s lots of helpful information online, some of the best resources include:
- How to Divorce in Australia
- Separation and Divorce
- Superannuation Splitting
- Child Support
- How to Write a Will
A separation is one of the most difficult times you will ever go through in your life. So whatever you do, ask for support if you need it. Friends, family and professionals are all people you should consider.