When a relationship breaks down, many people find themselves unsure of how to sort out living arrangements in the short and medium term. Separation may not always be a precursor to divorce. For some couples, separation may be a chance to work through issues between them before resuming their relationship or marriage.
If you have decided to separate, it’s wise to consider the following matters as soon as the decision has been made.
Who lives where after separation?
Frequently one partner will move out during a de facto relationship or marriage separation. More often than not, the primary caregiver will stay in the home if there are children to the relationship. However, this isn’t always the case.
If a property is rented, you may need to inform the landlord if one party has moved out. If you own your property, you may wish to register a caveat on the Certificate of Title if you don’t have your name on it as a title holder.
Both partners can continue to live in the same property, but during a separation, it is expected that they would tend to live separate lives.
Joint bank accounts, insurance products and other financial documentation needs to be altered or amended to reflect the separation. It’s also important to let Medicare and other statutory organisations (such as Centrelink) know about your change in status, as it may affect your entitlement to income related benefits.
Consider custody of children
It is important that a workable agreement is reached regarding child access and maintenance during a separation. Children almost invariably find separation difficult to deal with, so the adults involved need to work out suitable arrangements to minimise the impact of separation. If domestic violence is an issue, it’s possible to apply for an injunction which prevents the abusive partner having contact with the children or entering the marital home, irrespective of their parental responsibility or home ownership status.
Separation is often the first significant step towards a divorce, so it’s important that all the necessary steps are taken so that neither party is disproportionately disadvantaged by the process.
Expert legal assistance generally results in a favourable outcome being achieved.