Separation and divorce can be hard regardless of how nasty it gets. Not only does the present and the future look uncertain, it affects so many different areas of your world. The sheer amount of consequences and things that need to be put into place, can make an already stressful situation, a really confusing one. One of the biggest areas that require attention is the finances. Let’s walk you through your next steps.
The Financial Basics
If your former partner was the one who took care of the finances, you might need some help figuring out how things were organised. The sooner you can get yourself set up well for the future the more confident you will feel. Here are some things to consider:
> Bank Accounts: Identify all accounts because joint accounts will be split and closed. You will most likely need to set up your own personal bank account so you can start taking charge of your own finances.
> Work pays: As some employers take a little while to change bank details, you will need to advise change of details as soon as possible. You need to know where your salary is paid and what is paid from that account, including direct debits before you change your pay.
> Savings accounts, credit cards and loans: Review what is in your name and who will take over those accounts or, organise a split of funds. Sometimes it’s better to cancel credit cards and start fresh on your own. You don’t want a partner drumming up a big bill, to then make you pay up.
> Mortgage: How is it being paid? Are you paying principal and interest or just interest only. Can you afford to pay it and can you afford to refinance it from joint names into your sole name?
> Superannuation: Find your superannuation statement and get to understand what you can and cannot do with it.
> Child support: the sooner you can get onto this the quicker a plan will be in place and you can start receiving some financial assistance to continue to care for your kids. Even though it is complicated try to understand how it is calculated and if you don’t ask questions.
> Centrelink: If you receive Centrelink payments, you will need to change the details of where this money is deposited. While you are there, advise Centrelink of changes to your situation. You may be entitled to higher levels of Family Tax Benefit, and Single parenting payment.
Adjusting to new income levels
As your relationship ends, your income and expenses will change and its more important than ever to know where your money comes from and where it goes to. Gather all your financial statements so that you have an overall picture of where you stand. This includes how the utilities, insurances and council rates are paid. Remember to this point you have been a couple. You are entitled to see this documentation if you currently don’t have copies or access.
Funding two homes is more expensive that one. You may need to simplify your spending until you find your feet. Sign up only for the things that matter now, create new budgets with the proposed income from work, Centrelink and child support. Focus just on the next 3 months, and then reassess.
Superannuation, Wills and Insurance
The process of divorce can be an emotional and stressful process so getting advice immediately and ongoing will help you navigate your way through this delicate time.
> Superannuation: This is a great time to make sure your superannuation is safe, and to identify whether you are entitled to part of your partner’s superannuation. This may depend upon the types of superannuation fund you and your partner has. It need some negotiating with a third party person who understand superannuation to make sure this is done right. Find out who you have nominated to be your beneficiaries of your superannuation. You may wish to change them.
> Your Will, will need to be reviewed, especially if your partner was listed as the person who would be the Executor of your Will, or someone who would receive some percentage of the benefit. It is likely you will need to redo your will twice. Immediately after separation and again after divorce.
> Insurances also need to be reviewed. You may have been paying home and contents insurance based on a certain property, with a certain value of possessions. If you only take a portion of that dollar value and are no longer in the home for example, you can be saving money. Remember that the children are usually on the health insurance family cover. It’s important that you are in control of your insurance and it reflects your personal position from here onwards. Review car, home, contents, income protection, life and any disability insurances.
If you and your former partner have children you will have to make arrangements on who is caring for them and for how long. It’s the issues surrounding the children that are often the hardest to make. It’s pretty normal for both parties to dis-agree on these terms, it’s a tough call to make on top of all the emotion of a breakup. Where possible try to discuss this and negotiate amicably, picking your battles. It’s important to get a Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution so parenting arrangement can be put in place so everyone knows where they stand, including the children. It reduces a lot of the stress of trying to continually negotiate yourselves.
Focus on your next steps..
There are so many things that need sorting as the fallout continues from a separation. Decisions will need to be made, but also realise that you can change them later. This phase of your difficult situation only requires you to make decisions that will position you to be able to deal with what’s in front of you better. You can always re-assess in a few months time
when you are more settled, and make further changes and decisions. It’s about prioritising what is most important and then picking your battles in the midst of the chaos.
Mediation, helping you move forward quicker
Seasons of separation and divorce can be really tough ones. SHAW Dispute Resolution have helped countless families negotiate their way through these tough times, with the help of a third party mediator who can help guide the discussion and help you resolve with a workable outcome. We take the vast majority of the emotion out of it, ensuring you have a parenting plan that is enforceable and workable. Our Mediations commence within 24 hours most times, anywhere across the country, and agreements are in place within days. This not only fast tracks the process that traditionally we go to the courts for, and ensures you can move on as best you can, in the fastest possible timeframe, it helps you move on a lot quicker.