Now that the holiday season is over and the kids are back at school, we find ourselves back into the usual routine of everyday life. From our experience, people often use this time to reflect on their current relationship. While some are unsure on the idea of separation, others are confident in their decision.

Whatever the reason may be, making the decision to separate from your partner can be one of the biggest you will ever make.

Before separating from your partner, it is important that you are prepared for the challenges to come.  We have set out six key considerations that you should think about before you make the leap.

  1. Parenting

Arguably, the most critical consideration when separating is how this will affect your children. If you have children together, or from a previous relationship, it is important to understand how this will impact them. It is essential that your children feel safe during this process and are protected from any animosity caused by the separation.

We encourage parents to seek advice early in relation to parenting arrangements for your children. Every child has a right to spend quality time with those that they love, including grandparents and extended family members and it’s important that your child’s wishes are respected. You must also consider any domestic violence issues in the context of the safety of your children.

It is important to seek advice in relation to any parenting arrangements that you wish to agree on and understand the consequences and obligations you are agreeing to.

  1. Property

Leaving the family home is difficult and we suggest that you don’t leave the home too soon. However, your safety is paramount and if you find yourself feeling unsafe, it is important that you take the necessary steps to remove yourself from any harm. Seeking advice prior to leaving your home will give you the necessary tools and guidance on what to take and your rights to the property you leave behind.

A common mistake is thinking you have to live apart to be considered separated. Before you can seek a divorce, you must be separated for 12 months, however this does not require you to live at separate addresses. Find out more on the separating under one roof in this article.

  1. Finances

Most couples have joint finances and the process of separating this can be confusing. If you do have joint bank accounts and you believe the funds may be removed by your partner, we suggest speaking with your bank. This will allow any withdrawals from joint accounts to be authorised by both parties.

As for your personal accounts, it is often wise to change passwords to ensure your funds are secure.

Find out more on practical tips for your finances upon separation in this article.

  1. Documentation

If you do decide to leave the family home it’s important that you take with you any significant documents that you may need later down the track. These can include your birth certificate, passport, Tax returns, bank statements and super statements. If you do engage a lawyer, your financial documents will become necessary.

If you do decide to take your children’s birth certificates or marriage certificate, it’s important that you communicate this and seek advice early on.

Further, we suggest that you take all personal belongings and those items of significance to you.

  1. Alternatives

The cost of engaging a lawyer is daunting and can often be expensive. Alternate Dispute Resolution processes (including mediation) are available to assist you and your partner in resolving conflict and formalising an agreement.

Mediation can involve both property and parenting matters and is also required to be completed prior to commencing any Court proceedings in parenting matters, except in very specific circumstances involving family violence.

Download our free guide which provides more information on the options available for your family law matter that don’t involve litigation.

  1. Estate Planning

While divorce will revoke certain provisions in your Will, separation does not have the same effect. Consequently, it is important to consider whether updating your will and other estate planning needs to be addressed at this time as well. Find out more about estate planning and separation in this article.

Separating from your partner is challenging, emotional and complex. It is important to take care of yourself and prepare yourself with the knowledge and tools to go through this journey. The most appropriate time to seek legal advice is prior to communicating your separation with your partner. This will enable you to be honest with your partner and provide you with practical guidelines to move forward.

Regardless of where you are in your separation journey, Best Wilson Buckley Family law are able to provide you with the support you need and the advice you seek. Contact our team today for a confidential, no-obligation discussion about your options.