When we speak to a client for the first time, the first question they usually ask us is “I want to separate – where do I start?”
Starting the separation and divorce process can be overwhelming, but understanding your reasons for divorce, your options when it comes to how to divorce, and how you might look at building a new life moving forward, can help ensure you’re informed as you need to make big decisions along the way.
Here’s some key information to help get you started if you are considering a separation or divorce.
Trial Separation or Divorce?
Firstly, do you want to do a trial separation or move straight to getting a divorce? This is often the hardest question to answer. For some people, just the thought of separating can trigger off waves of emotions, potentially clouding your mind and leaving you in a state of confusion and fear of the daunting challenges that may lie ahead.
Although you will eventually have to decide whether to divorce or go for a trial separation, the Law does make this decision a little easier for you.
Under Australian Family Law, couples need to have been legally separated for a minimum of 12 months before officially applying for divorce.
Talk Things Out With Your Spouse
Talking things out with your spouse is an important part of the separation process. Choose a time when you are both relaxed and alone, and not just before they are about to go to work or to an important event.
It may come as a shock or maybe they may be expecting it but whatever the case, try to make allowances as they too will most likely be experiencing a range of emotions just like you.
If there has been a history of violence or abuse and you are concerned about their reaction, consider having someone with you during this conversation, or at least notify them so they can check in on you to make sure you are safe.
Australian Family Law applies the no fault rule so both spouses do not need to agree to divorce for an application to be submitted. All that is required for one spouse to state that the marriage or relationship has irretrievably broken down in order to apply for a divorce.
If a reconciliation is not an option and you are going to divorce, our family lawyers in Perth recommend trying to achieve an amicable settlement with your ex especially if there are children involved.
Take Financial Stock Of Your Situation
Finances can often form the biggest challenge in many divorces.
We advise our clients to take stock of their current situation and establish exactly where they stand financially before planning the way forward.
Start by making a list of your combined assets, your earnings and liabilities. Assets could include bank accounts, your family home and other properties, businesses, vehicles, personal and household belongings, insurance policies and your superannuation. Liabilities to include all debt such as your bills, mortgage, loans and credit card.
Next, create a new monthly budget by listing all your earnings and probable living expenses. This will give you a rough idea of what your life as a single person will be. The law requires all assets be divided fairly and equitably in a divorce, but that does not mean that everything will simply be split down the middle. As each case has its own unique circumstances, you’ll only begin to get clarity on what you may be entitled to when you seek legal advice.
If you had drawn up a binding financial agreement before or during your marriage, all the terms of the divorce and how your assets are to be split would be laid out in here, making it much simpler for you to plan your way forward.
Check Your State’s Divorce Laws
Although divorce laws are almost identical across all the states in Australia, it’s wise to check your state’s divorce laws before you proceed.
Legal advice is certainly recommended here, from a family lawyer in your own state.
Lean On Your Support Network
Going through a divorce is can be a traumatic experience at the best of times, so prepare to lean on your support network to help you get through it, especially during the early stages.
Good solid support can come from the people that love and care for you the most, such as parents, siblings, relatives and close friends. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself.
If you’re battling to come to terms with your grief, don’t be afraid to seek expert professional help.
Consider Family Mediation
If there are children under the age of 18 years involved, it is mandatory to first attempt family mediation when divorcing in Australia.
However, even if there are no children, we think that family mediation makes sense as it is the quickest, most affordable and least stressful way to divorce.
Speak To A Family Lawyer
The best step you can take if you’re wondering where to start when it comes to separating is to speak to a family lawyer in Perth, who will explain your legal rights and obligations, guide you through the divorce process and hopefully help you and your ex to achieve an outcome to suit the needs of your whole family.
We know that the sooner you speak to a family lawyer the sooner you’ll understand your options and your rights when it comes to separation and divorce. Did you know we offer a free 15 minute information call to help you understand what steps you can take and how we can help you? Book yours here now.