Surviving a separation

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you change your bank PIN numbers, internet and telephone banking passcodes and email passwords to ensure money can’t be withdrawn from your account.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Inform your bank in writing that you are separated and do not consent to any money being withdrawn from your redraw facility or joint bank accounts. You should also check your redraw facilities and joint bank accounts every day and, if your partner has withdrawn a very large sum of money, you need to act quickly.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 slatergordon.com.au/family-law for more details or call 1800 555 777.

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