What you need to know when going through a separation

Relationships can be tricky to navigate on any good day, so when you’ve reached the point of separation, there are some key points to think about and consider from a legal perspective. If you’re thinking about separating from your spouse, then this article is for you!

First, let us setup a hypothetical scenario to help take you through the typical process of a separation.

Scenario: Jayne is a stay-at-home mother of 10 years with 2 young children, her husband is the main income earner in the family, and they live under the same roof and own their house. Jayne and her husband have reached a breaking point in their relationship and are now considering a separation. Jayne is worried about what it would mean for her financially and for her children during a separation.

In Jayne’s case, there are a few factors to consider here. Jayne has been a stay-at-home mum for 10 years now and has sacrificed getting a job or progressing in a career, to be the primary carer for her children. So, from a financial perspective, she’s not independent of her husband, which is a common cause of concern, primarily for women, going through a separation.

What Jayne might not realise is that being the primary caregiver for 10 years, she may be entitled to a financial adjustment in her favour for not only those past years raising their children, but also future years, if she’s raising the children on her own. For example, if her husband was earning $160,000 a year, and Jayne receives an income of $40,000 a year, she could potentially receive 60% of the total property pool if she’s going to continue to be the primary caregiver for the children. Each case is different and the outcome will depend of the couple’s circumstances.  The public perception of a 50/50 division of property following separation isn’t necessarily correct. So, what is the process, and the first step Jayne needs to take in this situation from a legal perspective?

  1. Firstly, see a lawyer for an initial consultation to discuss what the process is and what information you need to collate and provide to your lawyer for their consideration.
  2. Gather details about your assets and liabilities and provide these to your lawyer. Your lawyer will assess your situation and then provide you with advice as to what you may be entitled to claim and the next steps to take.
  3. Your lawyer will help you to formulate a settlement proposal to put forward to your spouse/their lawyer and will provide you with advice in relation to any settlement proposal your spouse may present to you. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, the next step is to attend mediation.
  4. Mediations can be conducted in separate rooms or by video conference, meaning you will not have to have face to face contact with your spouse. If you and your spouse reach an agreement, the lawyers will prepare the relevant documents to formalise the property settlement.
  5. Should you and your spouse not reach an agreement after mediation, it may be necessary to take the matter to court which can be a costly process.

If you’re considering a separation and would like to know more, get in touch with our WGC Family Lawyer, Kelly Whitten today and phone 07 4046 1135.