When your relationship is falling apart, whether you aim to separate amicably or if your circumstances are challenging, there are multiple factors to consider and organise. Even if the separation is something you have chosen, and especially if you have not initiated the break-up, it is natural and normal to feel overwhelmed and spun-out by the significant life changes you are inevitably facing. Our Anumis Legal Family Law Dream Team has put together this separation checklist so that you have a straightforward guide to assist you when you are wondering ‘what should I do now?’



1. Consult A Family Lawyer Early


When you are thinking about separating from your partner, whether you are married or in a de facto relationship, get some advice about your unique circumstances as early on as possible. Some of the issues you can talk over at an early stage include:

  • Financial decisions that you will need to make. Financial decisions to visit with your solicitor include selling property or agreeing your financial and parenting arrangements by consent.
  • Mediation often provides a helpful way for you and your partner to figure out what is important to you and the areas that you can negotiate on. Talk to your family lawyer about opportunities for reaching agreement with your partner, without having to resort to court interventions.
  • Your divorce and separation questions answered. If you know what the rules, regulations and processes are around getting a divorce or separating, then you can prepare accordingly. Forewarned is forearmed and you have your eyes open when negotiating the arrangements to give you the finality you need regarding your finances and your parenting arrangements. If you have the information you need, you can approach the changes you are facing with more awareness, more calm and more headspace for all of the other emotional and practical decisions you will need to make.



2. Figure Your Financial Considerations


Finances are major area of concern when couples are separating. Here are some practical steps for you to take to reduce the anxiety and stress of sorting out your finances.

  1. Set aside an amount of money that only you have access to.
  2. Set up a new bank account in your name only and make sure that your benefits and wages are paid into your new account.
  3. Work out your income and expenses each week, month and year so that you know your When you are listing your income and expenses, be sure to include any debts and liabilities that you have.
  4. If you have credit cards in joint names, make sure you cancel them, or at least start thinking about cancelling any jointly held credit cards.
  5. If you have passwords and PIN’s to access your accounts, change your banking passwords and PINS. Right away.
  6. If you have children, contact the Department of Human Services to find out what child support entitlements you may have.
  7. Close down your joint bank accounts, or at least, begin the process of finding out what direct debits come out of any joint accounts and start to think about what you need to do to close down any joint bank accounts.
  8. If you have a mortgage that has a redraw option, approach your lender to require joint signatures for any withdrawals made on your redraw. This means that you will know if any attempt is made to draw down on your redraw.
  9. If you are struggling to meet your bills, talk to your creditors and quantify your
  10. If you have joint guarantees or joint loans you might need a commercial lawyer or family lawyer to help you understand your liabilities and obligations and what to do about them.



Don’t get caught off guard by the cost of a divorce. Read our latest blog “How Much Does A Divorce Cost In Australia?” to understand the financial impact and prepare yourself for the process


3. Take Care Of Your Children


If you have children, you are likely considering the impact of your separation on your children and you may be wondering how best to approach the many things that you will need to do to ensure that their safety, security, stability and happiness is taken care of during and after your separation.


Arrangements To Take Care Of Your Children:

If you and your children’s other parent can agree about your parenting arrangements, then you can document these arrangements in a parenting plan. This is the most informal of your options and does not require legal assistance. However, in many situations it is wise to get legal advice as to whether, in your circumstances, it is more appropriate to formalise your parenting arrangements by way of Consent Orders.


Your Child Support Payments:

It is a good idea to approach the Department of Human Services to discuss your child support entitlements. You can also discuss setting up a private child support agreement with your friendly legal advisor.


Informing Your Children’s School:

  • When you separate it is important to let your children’s school know that your family circumstances are changing or have changed. This way, your children’s teachers can better support your children as they weather the transition in their lives.
  • Provide the school with copies of any parenting plan or parenting Consent Orders that you have.
  • Always keep the school up-to-date with your contact details so that they can reach you in the case of any emergency at school.
  • Make sure that you can cover the cost of school fees, excursions, book packs, school uniforms and any extra-curricular activities your children wish to participate in.



4. Are Your Living Arrangements Changing?


If you are remaining in the family home, you must work out how you will cover rent or your mortgage repayments while your property settlement is underway. Your property settlement can happen within a matter of weeks or it can take months or even years, depending on how well you and your former partner can negotiate an outcome.

If your family home is a rental, and you are moving out, your name should be taken off your lease. You will need to make an appointment with your landlord or real estate agent in order to organise the removal of your name from the lease.

If you are moving out of your family home, make sure that your name is removed from the utility bills such as gas, water, electric and internet.

If you are staying in your family home, make sure that your gas, electric, internet, water and any other utility bills are in your name.



5. Is Your Will And Your Power Of Attorney Up-To-Date?


Make sure that you have a current, up-to-date will and that your will reflects your correct address and your wishes. If you have a Power of Attorney, then make sure that you revoke the existing Power of Attorney and set a new Power of Attorney in place.



6. Your Superannuation


Ensure that your Binding Death Nomination is up-to-date so that, if you pass away the beneficiary of your Superannuation is the person that you want your Superannuation payout to go to. If you want your Superannuation payout to fall under the terms of your will, then nominate “The Personal Representative”.



7. Your Life Insurance


It is wise to revisit your life insurance policies to make sure that you have the appropriate cover and make sure that the named beneficiaries are the people that you wish to benefit from your life insurance cover.



8. It’s Time To Tidy And Update Your Documents


  • Organise your significant paperwork. Make sure that you put in a safe place: your birth certificates, bank statements, car registration documents, marriage certificate, passports, superannuation statements, life insurance policies, tax returns and any other important documents you have.
  • Start a list of your assets.
  • Start a list of your debts and liabilities.
  • Set up a fresh email address.
  • Set up a PO Box, if it would be a sensible step in your situation to have a separate, secure place for your mail to come to.
  • Change the passwords and PINS on your exiting email accounts.


Don’t navigate the complex divorce process alone. Get informed and empowered by reading our latest blog, ‘How to Get a Divorce in Australia‘. Gain valuable insights and understanding on the steps to take for a smoother transition.


9. Your Date Of Separation


Make a note of the date on which you separated. It is possible to be separated and live under one roof.

The important time limits that you must know regarding applying for a property settlement are:

  • If you and your former partner were married, then you have 12 months from your divorce.
  • If you and your former partner were in a de facto relationship, then you have 24 months after your separation date to apply for a property settlement.



Are You Thinking Of Separating Or Have You Separated?


If you are thinking about separating or getting divorced, and you know you need expert advice, it’s never to early to book in for your complimentary chat with the Anumis Legal Family Law Dream Team. For your obligation free chat with our expert family lawyers, call 07 5455 6347 or email admin@anumis.com.au, now. We look forward to assisting you.



If you’re looking for a family lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, check out our family law page to learn more about our services.



Nadine Love

Nadine Love is a lawyer and part of “the dream team” at Anumis Legal. She completed her law degree at Southern Cross University and received the New South Wales Bar Association Prize for Evidence and Civil Litigation. In addition to her passion for family law and therapeutic jurisprudence Nadine is also a celebrated international author, personal & business coach, drama therapist and motivational mentor. Nadine’s interests encompass swimming and walking in the rainforest with golden retriever Anu, and Australian Shepherds, Lex, and Onyx. She combines her strengths of advocacy, empathy and out-of-the box problem solving to support her clients to achieve their best legal outcomes.

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