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.