Separating: What you need to do about Financial & Property Issues
If you are thinking about separating from your opposite or same sex de facto or marriage partner, or if you have already separated, then you need to take full control over your own finances, consider or re-establish where money will be coming from, where money is going to, what money can and can’t be accessed, what safeguards and security measures need to be put in place, what financial documents you need to gather together and that might just be the beginning for you.
There may be bigger money, asset and property division issues you will need to address.
It will be easiest for you if you have a to do list you can tackle step by step, one issue at a time.
After you have separated, essentially you need to do a financial stock take of where you are at and then look at what action you need to take for the future. There are also certain documents you will need to make sure you keep or get copies of, to help you do your property settlement in the future.
Financial & Property To Do List after Separation
We have prepared a checklist of things to take with you, to do, to think about, or decide upon, in relation to financial and property issues after Separation:
- How you and your former partner will support yourselves and your children.
- What bank accounts any regular income or wages will go into.
- Who will pay outstanding bills or debts.
- Whether you cancel any regular bills, change them in one party’s name only and who will pay them.
- Who will stay in the House.
- How the rent or mortgage will be paid.
- Who will keep cars, household furniture etc.
- Make sure you have (and will continue to have) access to funds – consider withdrawing funds and setting them aside where your spouse cannot access them to safeguard a nest egg.
- Consider each spouses’ access to bank accounts, particularly joint accounts.
- If you move out you should take with you (and not rely on being able to collect later):
- All of your personal effects as you may not be able to get them later. You should consider whether there are any photographs, items of sentimental value or family heirlooms you definitely wish to keep and if so, take them with you.
- Any medication, personal prescriptions, medical or other health records.
- You personal documents such as your passport, birth certificate, financial records etc.
- Any furniture or other household contents you will need or want to keep, otherwise you run the risk of having to buy replacement items and give the other party the financial windfall of keeping the household contents since it will be valued for its second hand value only, and not its replacement value.
- Make lists of each and every:
- asset and its estimated value – whether or not it is held in joint names, in the name of one spouse only or was owned by one spouse prior to the relationship;
- Financial Resource (including Superannuation of each party) and their value;
- Liability or Debt and the amount owing.
- Take the originals or copies of all documents:
- Indicating the value of assets, superannuation, financial resources;
- Stating the amount owing for any liabilities, debts, credit cards etc;
- Detailing amounts in bank accounts, investment and like;
- Regarding any lump sum contributions or windfalls made during the relationship;
- As to the value of assets or liabilities held by one spouse at the start of the relationship;
- That you may need access to or which may be of importance in any property dispute like insurance policies, bank statements, tax returns, notices of assessment, utility bills to be paid, employment contracts, pay slips and similar records, banking documents including deposit and cheque books, business, company and trust records, lease, hire purchase and loan documents, documents about the medical condition of your or your former spouse, etc. It may be necessary to copy to another device, print out or forward any emails or other documents stored on a personal or home computer, laptop, ipad etc.
- What will happen with joint bank, building society or credit union accounts, credit cards, store cards etc.
- What will happen to the house, car, furniture and any other items of property or assets.
- What you will do about any ongoing debts or liabilities.
- If there may be difficulty meeting mortgage repayments, tell the Bank you have separated and ask about switching to Interest only repayments while your property settlement is resolved.
- If property is held as joint tenants, consider whether you need to sever that joint tenancy.
- Consider whether any caveats need to be lodged against property to prevent the other party obtaining more funds by way of additional mortgage against property.
- Make a new Will and Enduring Power of Attorney containing specific clauses about it being made in contemplation of both a property settlement occurring as well as Divorce. If you have made these documents previously, separation does not invalidate them (or succession laws if there is no valid Will), only an actual Certificate of Divorce does.
We have also prepared the following checklists you may find useful:
- To Do Checklist: Child Issues after Separation
To Do Checklist: The Practical & Miscellaneous Issues you might forget after separating
More Information on Separation
The information sheet The Stages of Separation: How it will affect you & your former partner will assist you to understand what you or your partner are going through.
A good starting point after you have separated is our information sheet Separation: What you need to know & where to get free help.
You should also read the important information in our information sheet How does Separation & Relationship Breakdown affect my Will, family after your death, Superannuation & Life Insurance.
If you own houses, buildings or land with your former partner then you can read how that is affected in our information sheet How does Separation & Relationship Breakdown affect Jointly Owned Property.
You should know what time limits might apply to you which are explained in our information sheet Separation Time Limits after Relationship Breakdown.
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