Navigating through the initial stages of separation can be daunting. The whirlwind of emotions and practical steps required can overwhelm even the most organised individuals. Understanding this, we’ve curated a simplified guide focusing on “things to do after separation” to help streamline this transition, ensuring you remain proactive and informed.

1.Document Your Separation Date

Marking the separation date is crucial for future proceedings, including property settlement and divorce applications. This date is recognised by various government agencies, emphasising the importance of having a clear record, such as a text or email, for reference.

Fact sheet: Divorce vs. property settlement.

2. Assemble Your Support Team

During this difficult time, leaning on a support network is vital. Opt for friends and family who offer practical and emotional support, ensuring they provide unbiased and genuine care to help you navigate this challenging period.

Further reading: How to build a support system as a single parent.

3. Update Your Bank Accounts & Secure Joint Loans

Post-separation, it’s essential to secure your financial independence. This includes opening personal bank accounts and closing joint accounts or credit cards. This step prevents financial complications and is a critical part of the steps to take after separation.

To protect both parties’ interests, secure any joint loans by modifying or cancelling redraw facilities. This ensures that further withdrawals require written consent by both of you, maintaining financial integrity post-separation. If they are unable to facilitate this, then cancel the redraw facility.

4. Create an Interim Parenting Plan

Focusing on your children’s best interests, draft a parenting plan that outlines immediate co-parenting arrangements. This plan is pivotal in ensuring your children’s stability and can later be formalised into legally binding parenting orders.

5. Enhance Communication Strategies

Effective communication with your ex-partner can facilitate smoother property settlement and co-parenting arrangements. Choose a communication method that promotes clarity and respect, aiding in a more amicable separation process.  For most, this is a written form such as email, parenting app or text. Anything that allows you time to think before hitting send and that keeps emotions at bay is good.

Choose the mode for contacting each other and then stick to it, whilst maintaining respect at all times.

6. Organise Important Documents

Gathering key documents is a proactive step towards a structured separation process. This includes financial statements, superannuation information, and legal documents, which are essential for asset division and financial settlements. An asset pool is the total value of assets e.g. houses, cars, savings minus liabilities e.g. debts in either of your names.

Such documents include but are not limited to:

  • Bank, loan and credit card statements
  • Superannuation statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Tax returns
  • Utility invoices
  • Car registrations
  • Wills

7. Update your Wills, Powers of Attorney and Superannuation Beneficiaries

After your separation it is important to update your Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Superannuation Beneficiaries where required.

8. Maintain Open Communication with Children

Addressing your children’s emotional needs is paramount. Engage in open discussions about the separation, reassuring them of your unconditional love and the absence of any fault on their part.

Further reading: 8 Ways to help your children deal with divorce.

9. Engage in Mental Health Activities

Self-care is crucial during these times. Activities like yoga or hobbies that promote mental well-being can provide the strength needed to face upcoming challenges, emphasising the importance of looking after your mental health.

10. Choose the Right Professionals

While legal assistance may be necessary for some cases, exploring alternative professional support for family mediation or engaging a specialist separation accountant can lead to more cost-effective and less contentious solutions.  However, where there is: conflict, domestic violence, child custody issues or other complex matters, family lawyers are there to help.

Find out more about how we can help you here: Tricks for a financial property settlement (that your lawyer may not mention).

In conclusion, focusing on the aforementioned “things to do after separation” can help you navigate this challenging period with more clarity and purpose. Incorporating these steps and focusing on long-term well-being, including managing social media accounts and understanding the nuances of family law and domestic violence, can significantly aid in navigating the complexities of separation. Prioritising your mental health, securing financial independence through bank accounts and credit cards, and ensuring children’s best interests are at the forefront are pivotal in moving forward positively.

Posted by Belinda Eldridge
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