Assessing whether to stay in your marriage or de facto relationship?


We all go into relationships wanting them to be a balanced, loving and nourishing partnership that will last forever, but then life happens.  Relationships, like the people in them, change and adapt based on the events they go through – and if those life events have both people growing together and both feeling loved and valued, then that is the Nirvana. However, often despite both people striving to keep their relationship alive, the cracks appear.

When we realise our relationship is not what we want it to be we can:

  • work with our partner to fix it;
  • accept that it will not be what it was but choose to remain in it; or
  • end the relationship.

It is up to each of us to decide which of these options is right for us, as there are no right or wrong answers, but digging deep to consider each of the options and which one we can live with on a long-term basis is often a painful and confronting process.

As you are assessing your options, the financial impact of staying together vs separating if often a key consideration.  If a relationship ends and the couple financially separate, the net assets of the relationship will be split (assets less liabilities), so neither person will have as much as they jointly have as a couple.

If one person in the relationship has addiction or spending issues that are causing debts to be created, while you both remain in the relationship, you are each responsible for these debts; whether or not you created them or were aware they were being created.   So choosing to financially separate may be a self preservation decision, in order for you to cease being financially linked and responsible for your partner’s decisions and to prevent the loss of further assets in the relationship.

We have put together a checklist of matters for you to consider when making the assessment of whether to stay in your marriage or relationship or whether to end it.

A key factor to also consider in determining whether to financially separate is the cost (financial and emotional) to do so.

Checklist – stay or leave the marriage/relationship?


1   Is it safe for you (and your children) to remain in the relationship?

2   Do you trust your partner financially (eg have credit cards been taken out or debts incurred in the past without your knowledge or consent)?

3   Are you aware of your partner having any issues (eg, addiction or spending problems) which have you fearful that future events could occur which would absorb income/assets that were intended to benefit your family?

4   Are you aware of the income your partner is earning and their total salary package/business value?

5   Do both parties want the relationship work?

6   Are both parties prepared to do the work required to get the relationship back on track, so that it is meeting the needs of both people in the relationship?

7   Do you understand the finances of your relationship and what you own and owe?

8   Do you understand the superannuation entitlements for you and your partner?

If you have children under 18 years of age:


9   Do you both agree with the schools you want your children to attend/continue attending?

10  Do you both agree on private or public medical care and insurance?

11  Have you both made the decision as a couple for one person to be a homemaker and primary carer for your children? Do you both agree with your current choices re caring for your children and getting them to their extra-curricular activities?

Divide – Simple Financial Separation (“Divide”) does not provide legal advice, we are Chartered Accountants. 
This is general information only and does not constitute advice which may be relied upon.
Please contact Divide on 07 3367 5380 or via email at to discuss your specific situation.
Posted by Belinda Eldridge
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