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.
Unfortunately, during/shortly after the annual Christmas/New Years break we generally see an increase in the rate of separations. Whether its due to families spending extra time together over the break, or increased family/financial pressures which generally arise with the Christmas/New Year period, it appears that many people decide that they are wanting a fresh break at the start of a new year.
While we strongly recommend obtaining legal advice at the earliest opportunity after separation, 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 bank account passwords and have all correspondence and bank statements directed to you;
· Ensure that any joint accounts require two signatories;
· Revoke 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: SEEK LEGAL ADVICE
Seeking legal advice is crucial, even if you and your spouse are amicable. A lawyer will be able to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and will act in your best interests if negotiating directly with your spouse.
Don’t rely on second-hand advice, everyone’s circumstances are different, accordingly the law may apply differently to you.
STAGE 7: 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 to discuss your individual circumstances, and to ensure that you are aware of your rights, obligations and where you stand moving forward. We can also assist with answering any questions you may have in relation to the property settlement process, or in respect of any children involved.