Why it is so important to plan for Separation and Divorce?

Given that the majority of intimate partnerships are not lifelong, it is interesting that we rarely consider the implications of relationship breakdown until it is upon us.

I have been a Family Lawyer for the duration of my current marriage. Although I didn’t start out in my marriage with the intention that I would ultimately get divorced, having seen so many clients deal with separation, it is a reality that I have put my mind to.

However, I don’t plan what I would do if I were to separate; my plan is continuously being implemented to set my life up so that I’m well-positioned if I do separate.

I do this by how I manage my financial affairs – in how I own property, how I maintain my earning capacity, how I contribute to household expenses, the documentation of assistance we get from my family and so on. I also consider the impact of my lifestyle on likely parenting arrangements if I were to separate (eg. I don’t take illicit substances. Ever.)

How are your rights determined after separation

Your rights, entitlements and obligations following separation are largely determined by what has happened during the relationship. Therefore, in my view, everyone should get legal advice on entering an intimate relationship to know where they stand as the relationship evolves and what this will mean if they ultimately separate.

I understand that most people don’t do this – people generally can’t face the inevitability of death, let alone separation, and (apart from Family Lawyers) most people aren’t constantly thinking about separation in a happy relationship. However, the next best thing a person can do when facing separation, is to get comprehensive legal advice ASAP or at least before separation.

Separation is tough

The breakdown of an intimate relationship is usually stressful. Even in a toxic relationship, each party must face the upheaval of one household splitting into two and the many issues that go along with this. If children are involved, there are welfare concerns to be managed. Friends, colleagues and family members can take the news hard and add more stress and guilt. Budgeting constraints, uncertainty of financial position and changes to living arrangements are also heaped on top. While these external issues are being dealt with, internal conversations are on repeat, “I’m getting divorced”, “I never thought this would be me”, “It was meant to be ‘til death do us part”.

The hardest time to get legal advice

In the magnitude of the impact of separation on your daily life, it is overwhelming to also try to comprehend the legal implications of separation. Often your access to accommodation, money, and your children are impacted. Further, your ability to rely on the kindness of friends may reduce as friends start to take sides. It is undeniably the worst time to be getting your head around the legal process of separation.

First in, best dressed

Further, it is an unfortunate fact that separating from an intimate partner is often not a co-operative process. The Australian Family Law legal system (like many others in the world) is an adversarial system: each spouse is pitted against the other to compete for the best outcome from a finite pool of resources (including time with children). If your spouse gets more, you get less. Such a system does not bode well for a person who is unprepared, or whose spouse is more prepared than they are. This means, first in, best dressed.

As the spouse to get legal advice first, you may have the advantage of setting up parenting arrangements preferable to you, excluding your ex from the house, withdrawing from or closing joint bank accounts, taking possession of furniture and other, perhaps, sentimental items. Not only do you get first dibs at this early stage, understanding how to position yourself with an advantage gives you have leverage that can be very powerful in negotiations to come.

Try our Fixed-fee Smart Start Appointment

Early separation advice can be a simple and cost-effective as attending a fixed-fee Smart Start Appointment with one of our Specialist Family Lawyers. We can take payment in cash, if necessary, so that your partner does not find out and our entire firm operates under the strictest confidentiality. Your information will definitely not be disclosed to anyone unless you directly instruct us to do so. Within our 90-minute Smart Start Appointment, you will find out everything you need to know to set you up for a successful separation.

Feel the empowerment
of knowing where you
stand at an early stage.

Fixed Fee Smart Start Appointment

Your Smart Start Family Lawyer will answer all your questions, explain the law and legal processes, provide on-the-spot tailored advice and help you develop a plan for moving forward.

$350 incl. GST 90-Minute Consultation

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The information in this article is not legal advice and is intended to provide commentary and general information only. It should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law. You should obtain formal legal advice specific to your particular circumstance. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Solicitor Director
Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner