Sarah Walker: Do you know what you need to consider if you’re separating?

Hi, I’m Sarah Walker. I’m a lawyer here with the family law team at Turnbull Hill Lawyers. Today I’ll be talking about things to consider when you’re separating. This is in relation to property mainly as there are number of things that you probably would not even think about.

For instance, a major consideration is who will remain in the home? This doesn’t matter whether it’s a rental property or a property that you own. If you own the home and there’s a mortgage attached, often a common question is, who’s going to service the mortgage? Often the party that will remain in the home will meet the cost of the mortgage, if they have the ability to meet the payments. This is on the basis that the other party will usually leave the home and therefore will be paying rent. If the home is being rented, you will need to decide who’s going to stay in the home and take over the tenancy agreement.

Another consideration are bank accounts. If there are any joint accounts where you have some concerns that the other party may be accessing those funds against your consent, you may be able to go to the bank and both be appointed as joint signatories. This will have the benefit of preventing funds being withdrawn from the account without both of your consent. It may be worth establishing your own bank account in your sole name, and redirecting your income into that account.

Another basic consideration and something that you might not even think of, is to change your passwords on any email accounts, or any other accounts which you think your partner may have access. Related to this is updating your information on any policies, bank accounts, your driver’s license or anything that’s relevant.

Another consideration is on your superannuation entitlements, naming the beneficiaries or changing who the beneficiary may be. This is generally quite an easy process with the standard superannuation fund and may be as easy as jumping online and updating your policy.

Other things you may need to consider are things such as your private health insurance. Are you going to set up a new fund or keep paying into that jointly until you reach an agreement? You may wish to consider any insurance policies and changing the details on those such as where the car’s garaged, or establishing your own home contents policy if you do move out. You may wish to consider any credit cards that are joint and look at either closing those or paying those out.

You may also wish to talk about who’s going to retain the accountant, if you’ve used the same accountant during your relationship. A really important consideration is communicating this separation to the other party.

We advise that it can be beneficial to note down the date that you have communicated that you are separating to the other party, as this will be relevant to resolving your matter down the track.

With any property settlement, you’re both under an obligation to make full and frank financial disclosure. On that basis, it’s important to collate all the documents that you may need. These are accounts in your sole name, any insurance policies, motor registration, anything that shows any assets or liabilities that you have.

Collating these either at the time of separation can be beneficial as it may be difficult to enter the home if you leave the home and obtain such documents.

If you are separating or contemplating separation and you have any questions about any of these topics that I just touched on, please feel free to give us a call here at Turnbull Hill Lawyers.

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