Ending a relationship can be stressful and it’s easy to get confused trying to work out what you need to do to protect yourself and your assets at such an emotional time in your life.
To help offer some guidance, here’s some tips on things you should do, or consider, when you separate from your partner:
- Try to keep things civil
During a separation, emotions are often running hot. It can be very difficult to act rationally at these times but you need to pick your battles as nobody wants to be involved in a decade long fight with their ex over who got to keep the fishing equipment.
Especially when children are involved, it is important to keep things as friendly and civilised as possible for their sake, and for your own!
The more amicable a breakup is, the more chance you will have of being able to reach a settlement for both your property and parenting matters without racking up excessive legal fees.
- Start a diary
You may need to tell your lawyer about events or important conversations you have with your partner and so it is a good idea to keep a diary of any dates and basic details of these conversations or events. This will become even more important if you ever end up in court and need to be able to refer to specific dates that things have happened.
- Keep your financial documents and other important items safe
It is not uncommon for important documents and valuable (or sentimental) items to “go missing” during a separation.
You may need to give your financial documents to your lawyer at some stage and so it is important to make sure these documents are kept somewhere safe but also easy for you to access, perhaps with a trusted friend or family member.
It can also be a good idea to put any valuable or sentimental items, as well as yours and/or your children’s passports, in a safe place to make sure there’s no chance of them being broken or lost if things turn nasty.
- Change your passwords and PINS
If there is any chance that your former partner knows, or has had access to, your bank PIN or passwords for internet and telephone banking, emails or social media accounts, change them!
- Speak to your bank
It is important to let your bank know that you have separated from your partner and to check the security settings on any of your joint bank accounts or redraw facilities. Sometimes it can be a good idea to ask your bank to change your accounts to require two signatures for any withdrawals.
At the very least, you should be checking your accounts regularly to ensure that no large or unexplained sums of money are being withdrawn from the accounts without your knowledge and, if they are, you should notify your bank in writing that you do not consent to any money being withdrawn from your accounts.
- Get a new will and Enduring Power of Attorney
It is important to know that separating from your partner does not affect your Wills or Powers of Attorney. This means that, if you do not want your former spouse to be a beneficiary under your will if you pass away, or to act as your Attorney, then you need to have a new Will made and your Power of Attorney revoked as soon as possible.
It is also important to consider the ownership of any of your property. If you own your house (or any other property) with your partner as “joint tenants”, this means that, if you pass away, the ownership of that house will automatically pass to your partner regardless of what your Will says. Severing a joint tenancy is a relatively simple and quick process and so, if this is an issue for you, you should speak to your solicitor to get it taken care of.
- Get legal advice
Even if your separation is friendly and amicable, it is still important to make sure you are fully informed of your rights before you make any decisions which may have a big impact on you and your children
At PD Law we offer obligation free initial family law consults for only $175 plus GST so, even if your legal matter goes no further than that first meeting, you can still have the opportunity to speak to our experienced Cannonvale & Bowen family lawyer to know where you stand and what your rights are.