Marriages, De Facto relationships and same sex relationships are all covered by the Family Law Act.
Are you aware that there are difficulties in your relationship and that your partner may wish to leave.
What happens if a separation does occur.
A separation has three elements;
- Either party or both intend to end the relationship;
- Either party indicates that intention to the other party and;
- One of the parties or both parties act upon that intention to end the relationship and lead separate lives
What you should think about prior to the separation or after the separation has occurred to protect your interests.
There are important things that you should consider should this occur.
What you need to know
If there are difficulties in your relationship take steps to overcome those difficulties and to prevent a separation occurring or to minimise the impact of a separation financially and emotionally if a separation is inevitable.
Take notice and become aware of your partners intention and emotions.
Seek advice to deal with your partners needs and his/her emotional hotspots.
Seek professional financial advice to structure your financial resources to minimise the impact of separation.
Close all joint bank account as soon as possible and establish an account for yourself.
Commence negotiations and try to resolve financial issues before the goodwill between yourself and your partner dries up. Work something out while communication is possible and don’t leave it before it comes too late.
Leaving the family home
Seek legal advice and counselling before leaving the home. If you intend to leave the family home make sure you take all items of property including personal belongings that you will require until a resolution has been obtained. It is important to take with you all financial documents or copies of such documents which will be required if financial and property issues cannot be resolved.
Communication with your partner after a separation
Maintain a diary noting all important events, phone calls and discussions regarding your financial and parenting issues and noting negotiations or decisions that you may achieve.
It is important that you remain calm during all discussions with your partner. It is important to protect yourself against any domestic violence proceedings that your partner may bring against you.
Endeavour to keep the lines of communication between yourself and your partner open, amicable and civil wherever possible.
Remember that verbal agreements and written agreements relating to financial issues of property and your children are not enforceable if either you or your partner do no uphold the agreements which you have reached. Agreements can only be enforced by way of Consent Orders in the Family Court or by way of financial agreements in relation to financial matters.
Important steps you should take if a separation occurs
- Maintain an amicable relationship with your partner so that effective communication can occur to enable negotiations to take place to resolve financial and other issues which may arise from separation.
- To assist you in this regard it is important to initiate counselling for yourself and your partner. If your partner does not wish to partake in such counselling it is important you obtain counselling for yourself.
- Endeavour to negotiate all financial issues and parenting issues with your partner. If you are unable to do so seek assistance for such negotiations by way of collaborative law or mediation;
- Seek financial advice from a financial advisor on financial structuring and financial planning to minimise financial issues and to minimise the stress arising from monetary matters.
- It is important that you obtain legal advice before any negotiations take place.
- Organise and attend on any assistance program which may be recommended or you feel you may need to help you through parenting and financial issues until a resolution is achieved;
- Do all things necessary and if required have the assistance of your legal advisor to facilitate negotiations to resolve all issues
- If negotiations cannot be achieved by the methods described then seek to have financial issues resolved by arbitration which can deal with such issues speedily and with minimal cost;
- If all else fails and if your partner does not wish to proceed by way of negotiation or arbitration institute proceedings in the Family Court. Ensure that you have proper legal advice and assistance prior to the institution of such proceedings.
Matters you should consider prior to separation
- If considering a separation in your relationship weigh up the financial consequences of remaining in the relationship or separating from the relationship;
- Give consideration to the best arrangements for the children should a separation occur;
- Give consideration to you what would be your financial needs and what would be the financial needs of your partner and children should you separate.
- Consider how you can provide for those needs;
- Consider what involvement you wish to maintain in your children’s lives if a separation should occur;
- Give consideration to the most practical division of the assets to cater for the needs of yourself and your family;
- Seek assistance to deal with the emotional, financial and legal issues arising from a separation so that you are empowered to deal with such issues should the separation occur.
Prior to taking the final step to separate from your relationship make sure that you obtain legal advice on the financial and emotional issues affecting both yourself, your partner and the children.