Ending a marriage is a very difficult time for couples, so having a clear plan and understanding of what’s involved will reduce stress and result in the best outcome for you and your family.
It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the number of steps involved, from finance to custody, property to income, and having a clear to-do list will make the process feel much more manageable.
Our checklist is a practical guide that’s easy to understand and undertake. Of course, we’re always here to provide the support you need when it comes to the divorce procedure, no matter how simple or complex your case may feel.
At Nolan, our mission is to guide you through the entire process, and our promise is to make it as straightforward and as stress-free as we possibly can. That’s our commitment to each and every client and their family.
Getting expert advice
There are plenty of decisions to make and procedures to navigate with seeking to divorce.
Reaching out to an experienced Family lawyer will provide peace of mind and reduce stress as they will be 100% focused on your case and getting the best outcome, leaving you to focus on your family, as well as your professional life.
Often, our clients will make contact with us before they decide to separate, as we can help them decide on the best way to proceed. But no matter where you are along the path to divorce, we’re always available to give you professional, personalised support.
Let’s begin with the documents
The divorce paperwork may seem daunting, but focusing on it bit-by-bit and working with a family lawyer will make it much easier to tackle.
Gathering the documents you need for a divorce and having them collated is the best place to start and will facilitate the rest of the process. Remember: it’s all about reducing stress.
Start by sourcing the following and collating them in a folder:
- Marriage certificate; and,
- your children’s birth certificates (if you have kids)
- Statements for your:
- bank account;
- investments (such as managed funds or shares);
- loan account and mortgage; and,
- As well as:
- insurance policies (health, home and contents, car, income protection and life);
- tax records (tax returns and notices of assessment);
- car registration details;
- utility bills (gas, electricity and telephone);
- property documents (leases, deeds and mortgage documents); and,
- government benefit documents
Providing your lawyer with a copy of these will make the process much smoother and faster.
Take the time to make the important decisions
During a divorce, couples will need to work through a number of significant decisions. Our advice is to take the time you need to make the call that you’re most comfortable with and that will give you the best outcome, as a rushed decision is often regretted down the track.
We can work closely with you to give you the information and support you need to decide on:
- Dividing your assets and deciding who keeps what
- Make a list of the assets you both own, which may include real property, bank accounts, motor vehicles, shares, interest in any business, company or trust, superannuation and furniture and effects.
- Make a list of your liabilities such as mortgages, personal loans and credit cards.
- How to care for your children
- If you are unable to agree on the appropriate parenting arrangements following separation, we recommend that you attend upon a suitably qualified Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) practitioner. An FDR practitioner will meet with both of you and assist you in negotiating suitable parenting arrangements. We can then work with you to formalise these arrangements.
- Agree on how to pay for children’s expenses.
- Child support – contact Services Australia to find out more information about the amount of child support that is payable in your particular circumstances, as well as potential benefits for separated parents.
- Domestic violence and financial abuse
- Some divorce cases involve domestic violence, in which case your safety is the priority. Domestic violence can include physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or financial abuse.
- If you or your children are feeling unsafe, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 737) 24 hours a day.
- Protect yourself – call 000 if you are in danger or need assistance with an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
Work out what happens to your income and expenses after a divorce
It’s important that you and your partner will be able to support yourselves as individuals post-divorce, and that you both have enough funds. Navigating the financials when divorcing can seem a complex task, and it’s not always as simple as dividing everything in two.
This is where a Nolan divorce lawyer will be hugely beneficial, as they will guide you through the whole process and help arrive at the best outcome for your whole family.
- Sort out your mortgage
- Speak to your lender and let them know that you have separated. Your lender may allow you to make an application for financial hardship to reduce the mortgage repayments to interest only pending finalisation of your property settlement.
- Cancel your redraw facility or ask the bank to implement a ‘two to sign’ process on the mortgage.
- Try to reach an agreement about who will be responsible for the mortgage pending finalisation of your property settlement, noting that one of you may be paying rent for a separate residence during this time.
- Protect yourself if a property is registered in only one party’s name
- You should seek legal advice about how to protect your interest in a property if it is registered solely in the other party’s name.
- Prepare a budget
- Work out your income and expenses using a budget planner
- Speak to Services Australia to see if you are eligible for government financial assistance.
- Spouse maintenance
- You should seek legal advice about whether your spouse has an obligation to support you financially following separation.
Updating your accounts, Will and superannuation
Some of the things that you would have changed upon getting married will need to be reviewed again. This is important, so as to make sure that your affairs are in order, and having some expert advice makes the process easier and will get you the best outcome.
- Organise your banking situation
- If you do not already have one, you may wish to open a separate bank account in your name.
- You should change your PIN and online banking password as well as the security questions.
- Try to reach an agreement about the use of joint bank accounts and credit cards (including an agreement for two to sign)
- Update your insurance policies and superannuation binding death nomination forms so that your insurance and superannuation goes to your intended beneficiaries.
- Update your estate plan including your Will, Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship documents.
Be sure to formalise the divorce agreement
Once you’ve worked through the above tasks, there’s one very important step left to take: formalising the agreement. We want to make sure that your separation doesn’t cause headaches and legal challenges down the line, so once you have come to the final agreement with the other party, formalise it using either an Application for Consent Orders or a Financial Agreement.
Nolan Lawyers are experienced divorce lawyers in Sydney, NSW and we can assist in the entire divorce process. We understand the hardship and challenges that separation can bring and work through each divorce with compassion, dedication and expert knowledge.