There are so many things to consider as part of a separation. It is crucial that consideration is given to your financial security at separation.
The purpose of this blog is to cover our top 5 tips to protecting your assets at separation based on our experience.
TIP 1 – SEEK IMMEDIATE LEGAL ADVICE
You should arrange to meet a family lawyer as soon as possible after separation.
No, this isn’t us lawyers trying to make money off you; it is to ensure that any agreement you reach is both fair and workable. This means you and your former partner must be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
We almost always recommend that you and your former partner each receive independent legal advice before trying to reach an agreement about how you will divide your assets.
TIP 2 – PROTECT YOUR FAMILY HOME
Caveat – If your home is only in your former partner’s name, talk to your lawyer about whether you need to protect the home with a caveat. A caveat is a formal notice lodged on real property which prevents any person (including the legal owner) from dealing with the property. For example, selling, transferring, refinancing or drawing on the equity of a property.
Mortgage – Work out a plan with your former partner to cover mortgage repayments. Contact your bank and discuss available options.
Redraw – Consider cancelling any redraw options on your home loan or ask the bank to require joint signatures for any withdrawals.
Utility bills – Work out a plan with your former spouse to cover these bills. If you are staying in the home and paying those bills, put all utility bills (phone, internet, electricity, gas) in your name only. If you are moving out, take your name off those bills.
TIP 3 – PROTECT YOUR OTHER ASSETS
Bank accounts – Open a bank account in your name only and have your income paid into this account.
Joint accounts – Speak with your bank about requiring joint signatures for any withdrawals from those accounts.
Court Litigation – In urgent circumstances such as your former partner threatening to sell, damage or remove assets from Australia, it may be that you need to commence court litigation straight away in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to prevent this.
TIP 4 – PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS
Collect important documents – You (and your former partner) will need to collect financial documents. Speak with your lawyer about what documents will be needed for your case, as it will vary depending on your specific financial affairs.
PINs and passwords – Consider changing your PINs and passwords if your former partner may know them or could guess them.
Safe storage of your documents – Set up a new email address or change the password on your existing email account. Consider setting up a PO Box if you need a secure location for your mail.
TIP 5 – REVIEW YOUR ESTATE PLANNING AFFAIRS
You should, as soon as possible, find out how a separation may impact your estate planning affairs. In particular, your Will, Power of Attorney, your superannuation and life insurance.
WOULD YOU LIKE FURTHER INFORMATION?
At Martens Legal we can assist you with ensuring your financial security at separation.
By Tegan Martens
Director & Principal Family Lawyer
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances.