A Family Lawyer’s Guide to Preparing For Separation Financially and Emotionally

At Pullos Lawyers, we have over thirty years of experience in family law matters. We thought we should piece together a general 10-Step Guide to preparing for separation financially and emotionally.

This is a general guide only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Our family lawyers recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible when considering separating from your partner or if you’ve already separated.

1. Save up and put some money aside in an account held in your sole name

If you do not have an account in your sole name – go and open one. Plan a budget and stick to it. Money isn’t everything but it sure helps when you need to arrange your life (living arrangements, legal fees, food, etc.) when you are preparing for separation.

Now, we are not suggesting that you drain the entire joint account. Be smart about it. However, if your income is going directly into the joint account instead of an account in your sole name, we highly recommend that you change that.

2. Go to the bank

Go to the bank to make arrangements for any joint accounts, particularly those with an overdraft or redraw facility, such as requiring joint signatures for large transactions and ensure your partner can’t draw on those funds unilaterally without your permission.

3. Get a credit card in your own name

If you do not have a credit card in your own name, we highly recommend getting one so that you have emergency back-up money outside of what you already have. You never know what will happen.

4. Get your important documents and possessions out of the house

When preparing for separation, we recommend that you get your important documents such as tax returns (for yourself or your business if you have one), pay slips, bank statements, superannuation statements, share certificates and so on – out of the house. This includes a laptop, particularly if all of your important documents are saved to that laptop. You could leave those things at work or provide them to a trusted friend for safekeeping.

The same applies to any moveable asset that you would be deeply upset about if something happened to it, such as a family heirloom or jewellery. Get those out of the house so they cannot be used to upset you emotionally by your soon-to-be-ex.

5. Figure out your future living arrangements

This part is where it gets tricky when preparing for separation – particularly if you have children. We recommend that you seek legal advice before you take any drastic measures.

If you do not have children, we recommend that if you want to move out of the home that you share with your partner, then you search and apply for rental properties as soon as possible.

6. If you have children – Google “Child Support Estimator

This free calculator is a great tool to receive a general guide to how much you will receive in child support when you separate so that you can form a budget.

7. Try to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day

Preparing for separation emotionally as best you can is essential. We recommend that you meditate by taking big deep breaths and long exhales for a period of at least 10 minutes per day. Doing this can really help calm the body’s nervous system and reset your emotions. You are going to feel strong emotions throughout this process. It is important to implement a coping mechanism such as meditation to help your centre yourself. There are a lot of meditation resources and smartphone apps available (some well-know apps include Headspace and Calm) that you might find useful. Search 'meditation apps' to find one that suits you - many also offer free trials.

If you have the time to attend a yoga class (there are lots online if you cannot attend in person), we highly recommend that too.

8. See a counsellor or psychologist to work through your emotions preemptively

Seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great way to discuss your emotions upon a relationship breakdown. If you feel that you are on the brink of nervous breakdown, don’t bottle it up – seek help as soon as possible.

A counsellor or psychologist can also help you implement coping mechanisms for the amount of change that you (and your children if you have them) are about to undergo.

If you feel unsure of whether you want to separate or not, you should also seriously consider undertaking relationship counselling with your spouse to see if you can work through any issues you may have, to possibly rekindle the relationship, or to have a clear path that separation is the only way forward.

9. Do not make any decisions while engulfed in emotion

The worst thing you can do to yourself is make big decisions while being angry, anxious or sad, because they are often done without rationale. Take a step back and collect yourself. Formulate your decisions when you feel level headed.

10. Take one step at a time and seek legal assistance as soon as possible

Rome was not built in a day. You do not have to achieve the above steps and hurl yourself into the process of preparing for separation right away.

We recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible so that you know where you stand with parenting and property matters.

Knowledge is power and you will be a lot more willing to embark on change once you know your legal position.

Preparing for separation and need assistance?

For more information about about preparing for separation and how we can help, please complete our online client information form here. We can also assist with a number of other family law issues including children's issues, LGBTQI law and domestic violence.

If you’d like to discuss your family law matter with one of our specialist family lawyers over the telephone, please contact us on 07 5526 3646 for a free confidential discussion.