Mad, Bad, Sad – 7 Tips for a Smoother Split

Divorce Insights & Tips for a Smooth Divorce

One in three marriages end in divorce in Australia with January and February reputed to be the busiest time of year for marriage counsellors.

Having time to prepare and get things in order is the best way to strengthen your position, and ensure the best outcome, in a family breakdown. Remember, the divorce, property settlement and custody of children are treated as three separate components by the court.

  1. Understand your family’s finances – who earns what, where and what the assets are, and what is the debt associated with those assets. Find and access all logins and passwords to track funds such as investment accounts, superannuation, bank accounts and property and share portfolios. If you can’t get this information don’t worry, your spouse will be obliged to disclose it by law. Make sure your partner submits all supporting documentation when declaring their assets. If you don’t feel it reflects the true value, have a financial adviser or accountant check the figures. A financial advisor experienced in family breakdown can help you understand what you need to achieve in a settlement to maintain your lifestyle and cover your expenses going forward.
  2. Get legal advice so you know your options and what you are entitled to. This will help you assess whether any proposals made by your spouse are fair.
  3. Be prepared to negotiate and try to settle the matter before it goes to court. In most cases a conciliatory approach will save you time, money and emotional angst.
  4. Who gets what? How assets are divided depends of a number of factors, including:
  • the length of the relationship
  • whether there are dependent children
  • what assets were bought into the marriage and by who
  • who contributed financially and non-financially during the marriage. Non-financial contributions include things that added value to the asset pool such as renovating a house.
  • wastage, such as money spent on gambling, drinking, drugs, prostitutes, etc.
  • parental contributions such as helping children with homework, taking them to school, spending time with them etc.
  • domestic contributions. The use of paid domestic help (i.e gardener, cleaner, ironing lady) is often a factor in discounting the amount of domestic contributions provided by the person claiming that it was their responsibility
  • the age and health
  • their capacity to earn money
  • new relationships (and new financial circumstances)
  1. How long does it take? Family law proceedings through the courts can take years. So if you decide to litigate – and sometimes there is no option when dealing with a bitter unreasonable spouse – be prepared for the long haul.
  2. Make a new will as soon as your divorce is finalised. Immediately after separating, revoke any power of attorneys held by your spouse or other people who may be loyal to your spouse.
  3. Finalise it. Without a signed consent order, either party can make further demands for income or assets down the track, even if they are gained after the marriage ended.

If you need help understanding your options contact Alan Rigas Solicitors on (02) 9635 5333.

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