The holiday season has come and gone, the school year has started. In my experience, this is a time where many people are considering significant decisions about the future of their relationship.
While some have already decided to separate, others are contemplating their next steps. So, why is this the case when the holiday season is supposed to be a relaxing and happy time?
As festive and enjoyable the Summer holiday season is for many, it can also be a time of stress and conflict for some families. When there is a change from work routines to couples spending more time with each other than they typically do, this sometimes creates or magnifies existing fractures within a relationship. New Year is also a time where people are contemplating what lies ahead for them in the year to come. For some, they no longer wish to continue the way they have and are reassessing their future.
Whatever the reasons and however separation has come up for you or someone you know, there are five key considerations to be aware of before making any decisions.
Having information about your financial circumstances allows you to make informed decisions. Get up to date about your assets, liabilities and superannuation.
Considering whether you will continue your existing financial arrangements immediately after you separate or whether changes will need to be made to ensure assets are preserved is important also. If you do decide to separate, it is wise to consider what access you and your partner have to funds and explore your options.
Every action has a reaction so seeking professional advice early helps to ensure that you make informed decisions about how to approach your immediate financial arrangements before you act – without unnecessarily inflaming the situation with your partner.
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is leaving the family home too soon. It is vital to seek advice from a family lawyer to determine if this is the right step for you in the long-term and what the potential pros and cons may be. Safety is your priority though so if you find yourself unsafe, take steps to remove yourself from harm first.
As was explored in the article ‘Why you don’t need to wait 12 months – the processes in divorce’ property settlements can be finalised any time after a separation but no longer than 12 months after divorce. If you are in a defacto relationship, you have only 2 years to formalise a property settlement from the date of separation.
If you are the person in the relationship wishing to communicate your intention to separate it is important to keep in mind that this is first step of the journey, not the last.
Time the delivery of your decision by being mindful of when it would be most appropriate for them to receive it and how you communicate this. You may wish to speak to your partner or in some circumstances, you may write a letter to express your decision – this can be an effective way to articulate your wishes and ensure it will be delivered and received in full, without interruption.
For both parties, it is important to remember that every action has a reaction. The way you communicate this is likely to have implications moving forward and set the tone. Consider the way you communicate both now and into the future.
It is important for you to have access to your bank accounts, PIN’s and passwords. This is also important for any other places where you have personal information, including email and social media accounts. If you know that your partner also has these details, it is helpful to change the passwords on these accounts.
In addition to this, we are regularly asked whether conversations with our lawyers are private – regardless of whether you engage our team or not – these are confidential at all times.
If you separate and you have children, how this will impact them will likely be at the top of your mind. We encourage parents to seek early assistance, such as speaking with a counsellor to help navigate parenting arrangements following separation and assist to determine an approach that will accommodate your children’s individual needs. A counsellor or support person is also highly recommended to help manage the emotions which arise at separation.
A parenting schedule is often one of the first arrangements separating parents tend to make. We encourage people to be cautious about entering into parenting arrangements without seeking professional legal advice first. In our experience, there are many misconceptions or assumptions made about where they stand and what the best arrangements might be. Before you agree to arrangements, ensure you are informed about your options and the possible pros and cons. What might feel entirely suitable for you right now, may be problematic in the future.
In our experience we find that many people seek professional advice too late in the piece. We have had clients who had previously agreed to arrangements only to discover later that this put them into a vulnerable or disadvantaged position – not always through others’ actions but also their own, independent decision making. Had they understood the consequences of those seemingly innocuous decisions, they would not have made them.
Importantly, discussing your situation with a family lawyer early in the piece is not a trigger for a court battle. It is a conversation that provides increased clarity about your options where there is doubt or uncertainty. As you navigate separation, it is essential to be informed about your options from professionals who understand family law, before you act.
If someone you know is facing separation or divorce, share this article with them so they are aware of these considerations. Phillips Family Law is an award winning Family Law practice serving clients across Australia and abroad. Regardless of where you are in your decision making process, we can make you aware of your options. To discuss your situation confidentially phone +61730079898 or secure a time by clicking here.