This content serves informational purposes and may not encompass all individual scenarios. For situations involving domestic violence or other unsafe conditions, not all the recommendations herein are applicable. For domestic, family and sexual violence information head over to 1800RESPECT

Preparing For Separation or Divorce: Essential Steps To Take Beforehand

Going through a separation can be an emotionally challenging and overwhelming experience. To ensure a smooth transition, it is crucial to take certain essential steps beforehand if you can. By adequately preparing for separation, individuals can minimise stress and set the stage for a more organised and amicable process. First and foremost, it is important to prioritise self-care during this difficult time. Emotional well-being plays a vital role in handling separation effectively.

Prioritise Self-Care

Separation is undoubtedly emotionally taxing. It’s essential to take care of yourself during this period. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s practicing yoga, taking nature walks or engaging in creative pursuits. This self-care will help provide stability and rejuvenation amidst the upheaval.

Gather Financial Documentation

Next, gathering all necessary financial documentation is crucial before embarking on the separation process. This includes collecting bank statements, tax returns, investment portfolios, mortgage documents and any other relevant financial records. Having these documents readily available will facilitate discussions about property division and financial settlements.

Organise Legal Documents

In addition to financial documentation, it is equally important to compile all legal documents related to the relationship. Having these documents organised will assist in legal aspects of the separation process.

Consult with Legal Experts

Consulting with an expert will provide valuable insight into legal rights and responsibilities during separation proceedings. They can guide individuals through the complexities of family laws specific to your needs.

Immediate Administration Considerations

Breaking up is never easy, but approaching it with a business-like mindset can help ease the emotional burden and ensure a smoother transition. Treating a separation like a business deal means making rational decisions, communicating effectively and prioritising respect for both parties involved.

For a comprehensive separation to-do list check out our 13 page checklist. 

Day 1 of Separating

Secure Your Email & Collect Copies of Documents

  • Gather Vital Documents: Collect important documents like marriage certificates, bank statements and property papers to safeguard your future needs. If you can’t take original copies, look to make copies or digital versions of all of these for safekeeping.

Password/Account Considerations

  • Update Passwords: Refresh passwords for social media, streaming services and online shopping accounts to ensure digital autonomy.
  • Enable Two-Step Authentication: Add extra security to financially linked accounts to prevent potential misuse.
  • Consider Separating Accounts: If you shared accounts with your partner, consider creating individual accounts for financial independence.

Immediate Living Arrangement Considerations

  • Temporary Living Decisions: Decide who will stay in the family / relationship home immediately after separation, aiming to minimise disruption.
  • Alternative Living Arrangements: If one party moves out, consider temporary living arrangements with mutual respect and understanding.
  • Establish Boundaries: Even when cohabiting, establish zones of privacy and emotional breathing space.

Week 1 Post Separation

Child/ren Arrangement Considerations

  • Temporary Child Custody Arrangement: Prioritise your children’s well-being with a short-term custody arrangement focused on stability and emotional needs.
  • Secure Documents: Safeguard children’s passports and vital documents to prevent complications.
  • Parenting Plans: Initiate discussions about long-term parenting plans and consider mediation for amicable resolutions. Prioritising the child/ren during the separation is crucial in supporting their needs

Children involved in high-conflict divorce or custody cases can experience varying forms of psychological distress due to conflict between their parents

Government Account Considerations

  • Update Relationship Status: Reflect your changed relationship status on government accounts to ensure correct entitlements.
  • Link Services: Centralise government dealings through platforms like ‘MyGov’ for smoother and more efficient processes. It’s suggested that you call the Centerlink Family Line directly to update your relationship status as often you won’t have the functionality to change this online.
  • Assess Financial Assistance: Evaluate changes in eligibility for benefits due to the separation and apply accordingly

Week 1 to Month 1 Post Separation

Immediate Living Arrangements (Continued)

  • Reevaluate Initial Decisions: After a week, revisit living arrangement decisions to ensure sustainability and make adjustments if necessary.
  • Consider Rotating Schedules: Explore rotating schedules if still cohabiting to provide private time and minimise friction.
  • Maintain Open Communication: Keep channels of communication open for transparency and to minimise potential conflicts.

Month 1 to 3 Months Post Separation

Government Account Considerations (Continued)

  • Regularly Revisit Details: Ensure all government-linked details remain accurate to prevent bureaucratic challenges.
  • Check Service Eligibility: Periodically check for changes in benefit eligibility due to personal circumstances.

Month 1 to 6 Months Post Separation

Financials (Continued)

  • Splitting Assets: Begin thinking about assets, both tangible and intangible, and seek legal advice for equitable division.
  • Documentation: Document all financial dialogues and agreements for legal clarity and to prevent misunderstandings.
  • Seek Financial Counseling: If significant shared debts or assets are involved, seek professional financial guidance for informed decisions.

Separated Under One Roof Considerations

  • Demarcate Spaces: Create designated individual spaces for privacy and personal time.
  • Establish Routines: Formulate individual routines to minimise friction and maintain a sense of normalcy.
  • Communication Rules: Create communication protocols to prevent invasions of privacy and maintain respectful boundaries. You can read more about how to manage living under one roof, separated in our recent blog on the topic here

Final Thoughts on Separation Considerations

The journey of separation is complex and deeply personal. While these steps serve as a foundational guide, tailor them to your unique situation. Remember, your emotional well-being is paramount and seeking support from trusted confidants, therapy or support groups can make a significant difference. You have the strength to rise above this challenging time, and with the right tools and mindset, you will emerge stronger than ever.

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