Surviving a separation

These 10 steps may give you the best chance of surviving separation.

Separation husband and wife hands with documents

Going through a separation can be a stressful time, and the one question people ask is what they need to do to protect themselves when a relationship breaks down.

Slater & Gordon’s family law specialist, Maria Monastiriotis, shares 10 actions you should take once you and your partner separate:

1. Change all your passwords
It’s important that you change your bank PIN numbers, internet and telephone banking passcodes and email passwords to ensure money can’t be withdrawn from your account. You should also change your social media passwords and review your privacy settings.

2. Advise your bank of your circumstances and check your account regularly
Inform your bank in writing that you are separated and do not consent to any money being withdrawn from your redraw facility or joint bank accounts. You should also check your redraw facilities and joint bank accounts every day and, if your partner has withdrawn a very large sum of money, you need to act quickly. It is probably worthwhile asking your bank if they will amend the condition on your accounts so that two signatures are required to withdraw over a certain amount.

3. Put your financial and valuable documents somewhere safe
It is not uncommon for these documents to disappear after separation. Take them to work or leave them with someone you trust.  If you are concerned that your partner may take your children overseas without your permission, put the children’s passports somewhere safe too. You should also consider taking copies or scanning them and saving to a USB.

4. Secure your sentimental and valuable items
If that trinket box that your grandmother gave you is sentimental or you can’t live without your signed copy of football memorabilia, put them somewhere safe so they can’t be broken in a War of the Roses-style feud.

5. Change your will
Most people don’t realise that separation does not affect wills, which means your partner is still the beneficiary of your assets if you pass away. You should also consider whether you want to change the beneficiaries listed in your insurance policies and superannuation fund.

6. Revoke any power of attorney  
If you have appointed your spouse or partner as your power of attorney it is preferable that you revoke this instruction as soon as possible. Even if your separation is relatively harmonious, consider instead another family member or good friend.

7. Keep a diary
You may need to recount events to a lawyer including conversations you had with your partner. Maintaining a diary will help you remember what happened when.

8. Keep things as civil as possible
Nobody wants to spend a lifetime fighting with a former partner, especially if there are children involved. Even adult children can suffer when a split is acrimonious.

9. Consider whether you need to change your postal address
If you are concerned that your former partner will read your mail, consider obtaining a postal box or redirecting your mail to a friend or family member.

10. Seek legal advice
You may never need to actually engage the services of a lawyer in court or during negotiations but you should ensure that you are fully informed before making any life-altering decisions.

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage can be stressful and traumatic for everyone involved. Slater and Gordon’s family law team has the skills and experience to help you through this difficult time. Visit for more details or call 1800 555 777.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    5th Oct 2016
    There are some extremely good Collabrative/Mediation Lawyers out there (particularly in Brisbane), who will assist you in keeping things out of court - thereby saving you money and not having to wait for court time.

    5th Oct 2016
    Been there, did that and not a pleasant experience. You can save a few bucks by doing the divorce yourself in Family Court. Quick and easy, provided both parties agree on terms, of course, and was only $300 in Victoria, but that was 30+ years ago. Good luck.
    5th Oct 2016
    Will take you at least 2 years for a court date in Queensland.
    5th Oct 2016
    I am not sure that asking your bank to prohibit the 'other person' from accessing a joint account or redraw facility is quite as simple as informing your bank. It might also depend on how the accounts were set up in the first place e.g. were both signatures required for amounts over say $500 for example or could either person take any amount? Also it is not quite so easy to change the conditions of a joint account without both holders agreeing. You have to remember that you do not have exclusive rights to the account or the money (neither does the other side of course) but just be prepared for this not to as easily done as the article implies.
    5th Oct 2016
    Unless the law has changed you can ask the bank to "freeze" joint accounts.
    If you have cards with a business, you can contact the business and ask them to stop others using the cards and billing you for anything. I know somebody who did this, then the person the account belonged to was questioned. Fortunately the person the account belonged to was an employee of the company.
    5th Oct 2016
    Adult children can be affected by separation or divorce of their parents too. They may still be living home if they are students and one parent try to claim objects that the child paid for themselves or were given as birthday or Xmas presents; also a child's bank account in the child's name which the child has also deposited funds into.
    6th Oct 2016
    The whole family has to survive a separation. There are wide-ranging effects. A heartbreaking time for all.

    6th Oct 2016
    And then there are women who seek revenge or are just plain greedy and wont settle for 50%

    Good luck if you're married to one of those trash

    I was
    8th Oct 2016
    THANKS FOR THE MEMORY. the way to GO