“I’m ready to separate, where do I begin?” A simple separation checklist for an easier divorce

“How to get rid of my part — …. “How do I separate with my partner”

Separation can be an emotional rollercoaster that seems like it’s never going to end. 

Knowing what steps to take, who you can speak to, and what you need to organise can help make the whole separation process less stressful, costly and time consuming. 

 

A simple separation starts with knowing what comes next.

To navigate through all the legal hoops and hurdles, we’ve put together a simple separation and divorce checklist to help you understand the separation process, know your rights, and the trusted professionals you can speak to.

By the end of this, you will know everything there is to know about legal separation and divorce in WA, and have a clear plan moving forwards to a simpler separation. 

You don’t have to go through this alone.

 

Separation and Divorce Checklist

  1. Understand the marriage separation process, and divorce in Australia
  2. Is your relationship with your former partner amicable – can you both make this process quicker and less stressful?
  3. Get in contact with trusted services
    • Family lawyers
    • Separation lawyers
    • Divorce lawyers
    • Accountants
    • Psychologists 
    • Legal Aid
  4. Seek separation legal advice from an experienced family lawyer
  5. Write down your date of separation
  6. Discuss and plan living arrangements with your partner during and after the separation
  7. Create a detailed list of your children’s needs including activities, health, schooling and wellbeing
  8. Speak to a family lawyer about creating a Parenting Plan for your children
  9. Create a detailed list of your pool of assets and liabilities
  10. Think about how you and your partner can fairly divide your assets and liabilities
  11. Write down your financial and non-financial contributions to the relationship
  12. Think about your current living expenses and what you might need in the future
  13. Plan out how to manage your own health and wellbeing during and after the separation

 

Understanding How Separation Works

What are the different ways to separate?

DIY Separation Agreements

Do It Yourself Agreements is when you reach a separation agreement by yourself. This can often suit couples who have an amicable relationship and a good understanding of fairness.

However, as DIY separation agreements are not legally binding documents, if your former partner decides to change their mind, you’re back to where you started. You also run the risk of not understanding what your entitlements and rights are, and may agree to something that is highly unfavourable to you.

Reaching an amicable agreement is a wonderful thing, but it is still highly recommended that you speak to a family lawyer in Perth to better manage your risk, costs, and fairness.

 

Guided Separation with a Mediator

Engage with a legally qualified Mediator to guide you and your former partner through an amicable separation with a fair and equitable outcome.

The Mediator will be able to explain the separation process, the fairest of outcomes and how to negotiate a final agreement.

If you and your former partner are on good terms and wish to separate jointly, this is the best option for you.

 

Legal Advice from a Family Lawyer

If things between you and your former partner are less than amicable, then it’s best to seek legal advice and support from an experienced family lawyer.

It’s important to note that speaking to a family lawyer doesn’t mean you’ll end up in court. Rather, it’s the perfect opportunity to get free advice from lawyers and answers to any family law questions you may have.

 

Going to Court

If things simply cannot be worked out between you and your spouse, you will ultimately end up in Family Court where things are solved by the law.

It may very well come down to going to court to finally get your partner to respond, however the time taken and the fees required to go to court are more costly than other methods of separation. 

 

So, which separation process is right for you?

The method you choose for marriage separation in Australia will depend on many factors, including:

  • How amicable your relationship is with your ex 
  • If there’s financial trust and honesty
  • If you have joint finances and their complexity
  • Urgency of the matter

The good news is, our free consultation is designed to connect you with an experienced separation lawyer in Perth to give you legal advice on a process that might work for you, based on your specific situation.

 

Understanding Separation Legal Matters

What’s the difference between separation and divorce in Australia?

Being granted divorce by the Courts means you’ve legally ended your marriage.

Separation is a requirement for getting a divorce. You are required to be separated for 12 months, where both parties have agreed to separate and live apart from each other, however it is possible to be “separated under one roof” (providing you meet a certain criteria).

If you’re separated but still live in the same household as your former spouse, it is important to seek legal advice, as failing to meet the criteria could delay your divorce application.

Note: Divorce does not resolve issues with financial and property settlement or living arrangements of children. It’s simply the legal ending of a marriage.

 

What does de facto mean?

Whether you’re married or in a de facto relationship, in WA, you have the same rights in family law. With a de facto partner without children, there will be more of a focus on financial outcomes than anything else.

This will ultimately come down to when the de facto relationship started and ended.

 

What questions should you ask your lawyer about separation?

You’ve probably got a million questions on the separation and divorce process in Australia. Questions you may want to think about asking your lawyer can include:

  • What are my legal rights in separation or divorce?
  • How does the law decide on custody of the children?
  • How is my financial contributions to the relationship assessed?
  • Am I entitled to payments from my partner in the future, and for how long?

 

Understanding Finances: Who Gets What

What assets are divided in a separation?

In a separation and divorce, who gets what in Australia? Assets can refer to anything of significant value that is owned in the relationship.

The pool of assets that you list out in the checklist will then be divided between you and your partner, and can include real estate and investments, to superannuation, vehicles, even computers and cameras.

Liabilities of the relationship are also factored in and can include student loans, car loans, personal loans and credit card debt.

 

How are assets and liabilities divided?

You’ll soon learn that assets, in the eyes of family law, are not divided with a 50/50 split. But rather, assets are divided based on what is  going to be fair and equitable.

That’s why it’s in your best interest to find out what is going to be fair and equitable based on your specific circumstances by speaking with your family lawyer.

 

Can an accountant or financial advisor help you in a separation?

When it comes to financial settlements, the help of an accountant can help give you a complete picture on all the assets, liabilities and different types of income you and your partner share. This is an essential part of being able to divide assets equally at settlement.

A financial advisor helps you get all your finances in order prior to separation and helps you plan for a secure financial future.

 

How much does it cost to separate in Australia?

The cost of separation in Australia will depend on your individual circumstances. If a separation is relatively amicable and both you and your partner want to move on quickly, then the costs will be relatively lower.

Factors that can impact the cost of your separation include:

  • How amicable your relationship is with your partner
  • The separation process you and your partner choose
  • How complex your pool of assets and liabilities is
  • How much legal advice you need and who is giving you that legal advice
  • Whether or not you end up in court
    • How long your Court case takes to resolve

 

Understanding Parenting Matters

How do you bring up separation with the kids?

Children absolutely need to be told their parents are separating, but how do you bring this up?

Family Relationships Online mentions, “they don’t need to know the reasons why the separation occurred, but rather keep it simple, and keep it centred on the basic, objective facts”.

Tips for talking to children about separation:

  • Make it easy for your kids to love both parents (don’t throw your former half under the bus)
  • Tell them the truth
  • Keep it simple
  • Be civil — don’t criticise or belittle the other parent in front of the kids
  • Reassure your children that the separation has nothing to do with them
  • Focus on the future ahead

 

What is a Parenting Plan

And how to get a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a way of creating a formal agreement about parenting, without you having to apply for Consent or Parenting orders in court. It is designed to be simple to make and change, and must be written, signed and dated by each parent.

A parenting plan can include any aspect of the care, welfare and development of a child, and gives you and your former spouse a better understanding of the future arrangements for your children.

 

What to include in a parenting plan?

A parenting plan can cover anything to do with your children and parenting, for example:

  • Parental responsibilities for the children
  • Where the children live and who they live with
  • How and when the children will spend time and communicate with each parent, and other important people (such as grandparents and step-parents)
  • Details about other events that may be important including, sports, school, religion or medical treatment
  • How will you and your former half might resolve disagreements 
  • How you and your ex spouse might change the parenting plan if needed

 

Understanding Property Matters

Who gets to stay in the house during separation — Can you both live in the same house during separation?

You can be separated and still live in the same house as long as the basic requirements of separation are being met and can be proved, including:

  • Live in separate rooms within the house
  • Separate bank accounts, divided assets and money
  • Prepare and eat meals separately
  • Told friends and family about the separation

If you’re separated and still live together you will need to take additional steps in being able to prove you’re separated while living under one roof.

 

What are your legal rights if you have a property?

Whether you’re married or in a de facto relationship the Family Courts will be looking at what is ‘fair and equitable’ and what’s in accordance with Australian Law. This means your interest in the property will be recognised even in a de facto relationship.

Before you’re able to work out your legal rights for your property, a number of things need to be handled first. This can include:

  • Establishing the pool of assets and liabilities
  • Obtaining valuations on houses and superannuation accounts
  • Assessment of financial and non-financial contributions to the relationship
  • The future needs of you and your spouse, primary care of your children, medical issues, and earning capacity

Other requirements can include settlement of property to be made within 12 months of divorce becoming final, or within 2 years of separation for de facto relationships.

 

Want to talk about next steps?

Get free legal advice on separation from the best family lawyers in Perth in a free consultation and get legal clarity on what you can do for a more easier separation.

 

Disclaimer: The content on our website is intended to give general information about the law and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor. To the extent permitted by law, Savannah Legal is not responsible for and do not accept any liability for any loss, injury or damage, financial or otherwise, suffered by any person relying or acting on information contained in or omitted from the content on our website.

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