Preparing to separate from your partner can be a stressful time. There are many practical, legal and financial issues that you should consider, so it is important that you don’t rush into things but take the process one step at a time. We have provided a 12-week guide aimed at helping you leave a relationship. If you are thinking about separating from your partner, it is important that you also obtain independent legal advice.
Disclaimer: This is not to be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer if you wish to receive information regarding separating from your partner.
Week 1: Make a decision
- The decision to end your marriage is huge, but once you’re sure of your decision you need to begin planning for your new life. Ask yourself if you want to move out or stay in the home.
- As the next couple of weeks may be emotionally difficult, it is important that you continue to do things you enjoy and that will relieve stress. Keep up your exercise regime, try a yoga or meditation app and be sure to eat and drink well and get adequate sleep.
Week 2: Consider whether you will tell your husband or partner that you want a separation or whether you will leave in secret
- If you and your spouse have an amicable relationship with open lines of communication, you may want to tell them that you want to separate. Try to have a conversation about how the separation will work.
- If you fear that your spouse may react angrily or violently, it may not be a good idea to tell them you want to separate. If there is domestic violence in the relationship, moving out can be extremely dangerous, so it is best to discuss a safety plan with a trained professional from one of the services listed at the end of this article.
Week 3: Children
- In just about every decision you make your children will be your number one priority and that is no exception when it comes to separation. Separation can also be a very emotionally difficult time for children. Look for any changes in their mood and behaviour and organise counselling sessions if you feel they need it.
Week 4: Organise finances
- Organising your finances is crucial when separation occurs. Some things to consider are:
- Do you have access to money? Get your own bank account and credit or debit card so that money is easily accessible.
- Any communications you have with any financial services, such as banks or accountants, must be in writing.
- Find out how much child support you will be entitled to if the children are living with you and how long it would take to come through to you.
- Ask Centrelink what you would be entitled to and how long it would take to come through to you.
Week 5: Collect paperwork
- Now that you have a better understanding of your finances you should start collecting all financial and other important paperwork relevant to yourself and your spouse. These could include:
- Bank statements;
- Superannuation statements;
- Insurance statements;
- Birth certificates, and
- Make sure that these documents are saved on a USB or hard drive.
Week 6: Take security measures
- If you feel threatened that your spouse may breach your privacy you should consider think about taking the following steps:
- Getting your own mobile phone, preferably on a prepaid plan;
- Changing all your passwords and pin numbers;
- Having mail redirected to your new address if you are moving out.
Week 7: Organise accommodation
- If you are planning on moving out, you will need to organise alternate accommodation. The things you should think about when looking for accommodation are:
- How much rent you will be paying;
- Whether it is accessible to your children’s daycare centre or school (if relevant);
- Whether the area is safe.
Week 8: Create a budget
- Separating can mean that you need to support yourself and, in some cases, the children all on your own. Creating a budget before you leave can make things easier when you do.
Week 9: Make a safety plan
- If you are leaving an abusive relationship, it is crucial that you leave safely. You should think about:
- How you will leave;
- Where you will go;
- Ensure you have access to numbers and addresses of people you trust on your personal mobile phone.
- You can discuss creating a safety plan in much more detail with a counsellor at one of the services listed at the end of this article.
Week 10: Pack up your things
- If you and your spouse have discussed the separation and relations are amicable, packing up your things for a move will be quite simple.
- If you are in a situation where your spouse is abusive or threatening, packing up your things will be more difficult. You should engage in a counselling service (see below) to discuss a plan that will be safe.
Week 11: Talk to your lawyer
- After the separation has occurred, talk to your lawyer again to figure out the next steps in finalising the separation and sorting out a property settlement and care of the children.
- This is also a good time to make a new will and power of attorney as your circumstances have changed.
- Find a lawyer that understands your situation and that you feel comfortable with.
Week 12: Do things you love
- You’ve left – now it’s time to get back on your feet! We understand that this isn’t easy but try to have fun amongst all the stress. Why not join a new social group, such as or a local playgroup, a book club or even an art class? It’s time to focus on YOU!
At Gowland Legal we are experts in the area of Family Law. Our professional team offers an empathetic, personalised service with a focus on time and cost effectiveness. To make an appointment please call 9569 3000.
NB: If at any point you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, please call the police.
Domestic violence services
- The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW – 1800 938 227
- Leichhardt Community Women’s Health Centre – 9560 311
- Southern Sydney Women’s Therapy Centre Campsie – 9718 1955
- Moving Forward – 1800 65 64 63
- Link 2 Home Emergency Accommodation – 1800 152 152
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