Many people are unprepared for the loneliness and difficulties of separation or divorce but there’s help and support available.
|Coping with the emotional pain|
Many people can draw on support from their family and friends at this time. But this support isn’t always available.
Sometimes it’s unwelcome for many reasons. Sharing intimate details about your marriage can be difficult at times. Family relationships can throw up painful memories.
Also, well-meaning people can take sides and perhaps unintentionally foster some of the very natural, but negative feelings you’re experiencing.
You may find that support and advice from an independent person is helpful.
|The impact on children|
As a parent, you want to do your best for your children. You’ll want to shield them as much as possible from any animosity between you and your partner.
Consider advising your child’s school of the situation, so they can keep an eye on your child’s behaviour and look out for any changes.
You may also need advice on how to talk to your children about what’s happening in their lives.
Here are some questions they may ask.
You may want to consider counseling for your children. The Kids Helpline specialises in helping children and can provide online counseling or confidential counseling over the phone on 1800 551 800.
There are a number of booklets you might find useful. They’re available through the Family Law Courts or the Child Support Agency (CSA). These include:
Sadly, many people are the victims of domestic violence. If you or your children are affected by violence, or are in danger, you should seek help immediately. In an emergency you can call 000 for the police.
If violence is an issue you may find some assistance at the following:
Victoria -Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service of Victoria (24hr) 9322 3555 or (country toll free) 1800 015 188
NSW - Domestic Violence Line (24hr) support and referral 1800 656 463
ACT- Domestic Violence Crisis Service (24hr) (02) 6280 0900
Northern Territory - Domestic Violence Crisis Counseling Service (24hr) 1800 019 116
South Australia - Family Violence Crisis Service (24hr) 1300 782 200 for after hours crisis care 13 16 11
Tasmania - Domestic Family Violence Crisis Service (Mon-Fri 9am- Midnight, weekends 4pm-Midnight) 1800 608 122
Western Australia -Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline (24hr) 1800 007 339
Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline (24hr) 1800 000 599.
|Establishing your independence|
Once you and your partner are living separately, you may find you miss many of the things you previously took for granted.
You may have had a family doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant or financial planner and for any number of reasons, you mightn’t want to continue dealing with these people.
In some cases it will be clear that the same person can’t look after separated partners. In other cases you may simply feel more at ease dealing with someone else.
Limit your financial risk. Joint bank accounts, joint credit cards and other joint financial commitments can become problematic once you’ve separated. You could easily wind up becoming responsible for debts that your partner has created.
You should take steps to limit this risk by separating your joint accounts.
In some circumstances you’ll also need to ensure joint accounts or agreements are transferred from one name to another.
There may be policies which have been cancelled that could leave you at risk. For example, your home insurance policy may have been held in one name. If it’s been cancelled and you suffer a loss, you may not be covered.
It’s wise to make a list of these joint arrangements and go back to it after a period of time to check if there are things you’ve forgotten.
The list could include:
|The legal process|
The following information is designed to provide an overview only and should in no way be considered as legal advice.
When you begin divorce proceedings, the question of why your marriage is ending isn’t an issue considered by the court.
For the divorce proceedings to commence, you’ll need to have been separated for more than 12 months. It’s possible to live in the same home and still be considered separated.
You should also note that if you have children under 18, the court will not grant a divorce unless it’s satisfied that suitable arrangements have been made for them.
Sometimes couples will spend a fortune in court without stopping to think where the money is coming from. This is your money. Not only will you need to pay court costs but also, in many cases, both parties will pay for their respective legal representation.
When you agree
Divorce is often handled by the two partners in a relatively amicable fashion. In fact, the Federal Government provides an online service for this very purpose. You can access this service at The Australian Government's Family Law Courts site or you can obtain a form by calling 1300 367 110.
Consider getting independent advice before making any final decision. This isn’t to say you need a lawyer to argue when there is no argument. But be sure you understand the consequences of your decision.
If you can agree on how the ownership of property and other assets can be settled without court action, it will certainly save time and money. This will obviously be more complex when it involves areas such as child support and superannuation.
If you’d like your agreement formalised by the court, you can apply for what’s known as ‘financial orders by consent’.
If you have children under the age of 18, the court must be satisfied their welfare has been considered and planned for in any settlement. This plan can simply be an informal agreement between the parents.
If you want to make it legally binding you’ll need to register it with a court. The Family Law Courts can help you do this as part of the consent orders discussed above.
Before you consider an agreement about financial support for your children, the Family Law Courts recommends you first contact the Child Support Agency on 13 12 72 or visit the Child Support Agency website.
The agency can give you advice on how child support is calculated.
|When you disagree|
You may need legal advice and mediation to help resolve some of the differences. In many cases, mediation can resolve these differences before there’s a need for the court to make a ruling.
With emotions running high, mediation about the custody of the children or the financial settlement of the marriage may not lead to a resolution. If this happens, then the court will be asked to decide.
|How we can help|
Going through a divorce is a time when it pays to reassess your finances. First, you’ll have to do this anyway to settle the financial aspect of the divorce. Then you’ll need to move forward, and to do that with confidence, you need a plan.
An ANZ Financial Planner can help you examine a number of areas which will change as a result of your new circumstances, this can include your insurance cover, your superannuation and your plans to build wealth to secure your financial future. Your initial discussion is complimentary and without obligation. Speak with an ANZ Financial Planner.
®A-Z Review is a registered trademark of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) ABN 11 005 357 522.
1. Money magazine Home Lender of the Year Award 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005, and AFR Smart Investor Magazine Home Lender of the Year Award 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1999. Australian Lending Awards, Mortgage Lender of the Year 2011 and Best Investor Lender 2011. The Australian Lending Awards is an independent initiative of The Adviser and specialist research and advisory firm RFI.
ANZ Financial Planners are representatives of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, ABN 11 005 357 522, the holder of an Australian Financial Services licence.