038: Separating from your partner

This episode will talk you through the practical life admin issues you will need to address if you embark on the path of separating from your partner

There have been media reports that the divorce rate is expected to spike due to COVID-19. Search engine data for divorce usually increases after Christmas and New Year, but Google has revealed that people are already considering their choices, which is unsurprising given the stresses of homeschooling, lockdown, job loss and income loss.

They talk about seeing a lawyer to seek initial advice (ideally prior to separation). If you are looking for a lawyer:

  • many lawyers experienced in family law will give you an initial free or reduced-rate consultation
  • ask for recommendations from friends who have gone through the same situation 
  • check to see if you are eligible for Legal Aid
  • contact your state law society or law institute.

They talk about making the most of a meeting with lawyers including preparing information ahead of time such as:

  • the history of your relationship
  • a list of your assets – including rough values and details of any debts 
  • preparing some written questions including an estimate of costs at each stage. You might want to consider taking a friend with you to the meeting to take notes.

Mia talks about the steps she went through to prepare for her separation including:

  • ensuring all family admin systems were streamlined and shared including to-do lists, checklists and references lists, shared calendar, cloud storage with important documents scanned, password manager with access to bank and provider accounts, paperless billing and direct debits for as much as possible
  • establishing her separate financial arrangements including securing employment and applying for her own credit card
  • ensuring the house was organised, decluttered, and in good repair 
  • establishing a support network and scheduling appointments including tapping into her employer’s Employee Assistance Program
  • compiling a checklist of things she would need to furnish a new home
  • research on co-parenting arrangements
  • establishing a budget and then researching and securing a rental property to move into.

They also talk about some of the organisations you may need to contact when you separate including:

  • Services Australia – to identify payments you may be eligible for or need to make
  • Medicare
  • Superannuation
  • Banks
  • Employer including emergency contact information
  • Wills and Powers of Attorney.

They also briefly discuss the two formal options for parenting arrangements:

  • Parenting Order (an order, filed in court) 
  • Parenting Plan (an agreement, not filed in court) .

RESOURCES

Book: Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After, Katherine Woodward Thomas

Relationships Australia – Separation or divorce advice sheets

Relationships Australia Parenting Plan booklet

Services Australia – Information about payments and services for separated parents providing financial support to children

Womens Legal Service Victoria

MensLine Australia

Legal Aid

New Home checklist

CustodyXchange website 

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