Items to consider for your property settlement when separating
- Having a separate bank account for your income - In a situation where you are separating from your spouse it is not uncommon for immediate access to funds being a priority for both you and your ex-partner. If your spouse has access to the account in which you receive your income you should consider changing the account into which you are paid so only you have access. In some circumstances, this may involve setting up a separate bank account. Failure to do this may result in your income drained, usually without notice. Whilst something may be able to be done about the lost funds in the longer term it will not help you buy next week's groceries.
Access to funds from joint accounts
- Similarly to number one, any accumulated savings in joint accounts may also be at risk. In order to protect yourself in the short-term it may be prudent to either restrict your spouse's access to such joint funds or move them to an account which you control. Again, the Court may have solutions to this problem in the long-term, but in the short-term possession of these funds is still 9ths of the law.
Securing pin numbers and passwords
- Pin numbers and passwords to Internet banking and any other services can also be a source of access to your money or information by your spouse. It is sensible to protect yourself from the possibility of loss by changing any pin numbers and passwords.
Subsidiary credit cards
- It can quite often be overlooked where you are the primary credit card holder that your spouse may have a secondary card linked to your account. Purchases made on the subsidiary card will be your responsibility in the short-term. Banks are not interested in hearing if your ex-partner has made purchases, nor will they be interested in the details of your separation. Subsidiary credit cards can be cancelled if you are the primary card holder. If making such a cancellation it is advised to alert your ex-partner that the card has been cancelled.
Access to financial records
- In any property settlement, being able to establish the history of finances is always important in obtaining proper advice and making or defending any claim. Most relevant financial records can be obtained from banks, financial institutions, your accountant and your financial planner, however this is often at great expense. It is sensible to obtain either originals or copies of any financial records available at the time of separation. It can save a great deal of time and money.
- Staying in the home - In a difficult domestic relationship one of the big decisions to be made is whether or not you should stay in the house or leave. There are four key considerations that may arise in decisions concerning whether or not you should leave the home. These are legal or practical considerations and do not take into account the emotional costs that may arise from staying in a domestic environment, which is unhealthy.
- Do you have alternate accommodation available and can you afford to stay in that alternate accommodation if your dispute becomes drawn out?
- If you believe it is necessary to sell your home, it might be wise to maintain control of the home by remaining living in it. This will ensure it is well presented and made available for sale in an appropriate way.
- If you believe there will be a contest between you and your ex-partner as to who will keep the home, again it might be beneficial to remain in the home to maintain control of it rather than leave that to your spouse.
- In the event of a contest as to the residence of children, (if applicable) being able to keep them in the familiar environment of the home can be an argument to your advantage.
None of these points are decisive, but should be top of mind when making such a decision.
An inventory of the contents of the house (including photographs if any are able to be taken) of the contents
- It is quite common in family law matters that once one party leaves the home, the contents of the house is not acknowledged or made available for valuation by the remaining party. Further, you should bare in mind that the Court values all assets at their current market (second hand) value. Second hand home contents is usually substantially less than the replacement costs of those items. In short, what you leave behind your ex-partner will keep at very low cost.
- For reasons of confidentially and to control financial documents it is often sensible to arrange for a mail redirection to an alternate address through your local post office. This can be done at a small fee.
Computer files and emails
- You should consider the security and accessibility of any computer records, computer files or emails that may be available to your spouse to be used after separation. You should consider carefully whether or not such information should be left available to your ex-partner and how it may be used.
Advice from Armstrong Legal
- You should get advice, where possible, in advance so you are aware of the issues faced in your particular situation. This allows you to discuss the situation sensibly with your ex-partner and prevents you being mislead or bullied because of a lack of understanding of your rights. Our lawyers would be happy to have a no obligation, free of charge discussion with you over the phone.
where to next?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?
Why Choose Armstrong Legal?