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COMMON TRAPS AFTER SEPARATION

Tue, 20 Feb 2018

COMMON TRAPS AFTER SEPARATION

At Affinity Family Lawyers, we understand that separation from a husband/wife or long term de facto partner can be one of the most stressful and traumatic events in a person's life.

Most people do not know where to begin, and often delay taking any steps towards obtaining legal advice, and consequently, do many things which may be detrimental to their property settlement in the long run.

There are many things which we recommend doing as soon as possible after separation, which are detailed further below and are canvassed in some of our previous articles.

Mediation

Many people incorrectly believe that going to mediation is a legal requirement before being able to progress to a property settlement. This is incorrect. In many circumstances, a matter may be unsuitable for mediation due to various reasons, and accordingly, we would recommend not attending mediation or a Family Relationship Centre until you have spoken to an independent solicitor.  Our Gold Coast Lawyers are on hand to guide you through this process.

Thinking that domestic violence has to involve physical violence.

Again, there are many misconceptions that domestic violence to have occurred the violence must have been physical. This is not the case at all. The definition of domestic violence is very broad, and can include emotional abuse, harassment and intimidation. It is best to seek independent legal advice to discuss your individual circumstances prior to making assumptions.

Failing to document dates/occurrences in a diary

We recommend that you carefully diarise critical dates and occurrences after separation, including the separation date and dates the children spend with each parent so that you have a written record of events. This becomes helpful when you see your solicitor and means that no matter your emotional state during your consultation, you will be able to provide your solicitor with the pertinent information required.

Relying on second hand advice

Another common issue which we see is when clients have been told by their sister/brother/neighbour/boss about how much of the property pool they will be entitled to, or who the children will live with. It is impossible to ascertain how the law may apply to you and your specific circumstances until you have a consultation with your lawyer. Different circumstances apply in various situations and failing to obtain advice on the say-so of someone else's experiences and circumstances is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, we strongly recommend that you don't hold off on obtaining independent legal advice on your individual circumstances.

It is of the utmost importance that you seek advice from one of our experienced Gold Coast Lawyers as soon as possible after separation so you know what your rights, obligations and options are. Our family law team are on hand to guide you through this tumultuous time, so please feel free to telephone our office today on 5563 8970 to arrange your consultation with one of our professional family lawyers.

While we strongly recommend obtaining legal advice at the earliest opportunity, there are practical steps you can take in the interim to protect your interests and emotional wellbeing prior to seeking the advice of a lawyer.

STAGE 1: LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

Separation may feel like the end, however, we assure you that there is life after separation. Below are a few suggestions which we have compiled during our professional experiences dealing with client's during this extremely traumatic time:

· Remember to pay attention to your emotional needs and give yourself permission to feel;

· Do things that will nurture you emotionally and physically;

· Let go of problems beyond your control, and surround yourself with a strong support network;

· Eat a well balanced diet and keep active.

STAGE 2: KEEP IT CLASSY

Unfortunately, during this emotional time, a lot of people turn to social media outlets to vent their anger and frustration. While it can feel cathartic at the time, when these comments are read out in a formal setting such as the Court room, it can cast an extremely negative light on the author and can also damage their position in the proceedings.

STAGE 3: INFORMATION GATHERING

When separating, it can help to undertake an information gathering exercise. This involves looking at all your financial assets and debts, and gathering copies of bank accounts, super balances, bills, financial commitments and other legal and financial documents (such as credit cards, personal loans, trust documents, mortgage etc.).

STAGE 4: CONSIDER CLOSING JOINT ACCOUNTS

· If you have joint credit cards, consider cancelling them.

· Contact the bank to discuss changing your account passwords and have all correspondence and bank statements directed to you;

· Ensure that any joint accounts require two signatories;

· Terminate any existing powers of attorney, and consider reviewing your will and superannuation benefit arrangements.

STAGE 5: KEEP A DIARY

You should keep a diary to record critical dates including when separation occurred, who has spent time with the children, and any incidents relating to the children.

STAGE 6: FORMALISE ANY AGREEEMENTS

If you and your spouse reach an agreement to finalise your property and/or parenting matters, it is essential to make the agreement formal so that your rights are protected and enforceable by the Court in the event that your spouse breaches the agreement made between you.

Affinity Lawyers is well placed to guide you through this traumatic time, so contact one of our friendly family lawyers today on 07 5563 8970.

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