Managing Associate, Steve Cohen and Lawyer, Ella Italiano-Schmidt in our Family Law team have highlighted the difficulties of legal separation.
Separating from your spouse or partner can be an emotionally difficult time as it involves making changes to many aspects of your lives. Most people find the journey to a new life, home, and relationship is hard, even if you and your ex-partner are on good terms and are being cooperative.
As many decisions need to be made during this distressing time, it is crucial to figure out what not to do during your separation.
It is important to look after your emotional wellbeing for you, your ex-partner, and your children. As emotions run high at the time, you may do or say things that you will later regret.
Nearly everything that you say, do, or text can be brought before the Court as evidence. So, remember to consider your actions very carefully.
If you wish to settle your matter without the need to go to Court, it is important not to ignore the other parent and their concerns about the children. By factoring in other interested parties’ perspectives, this may facilitate a quick agreement, thereby saving money and decreasing emotional turmoil.
You also should not use social media or other communication platforms to criticise the other parent’s in a negative manner. Any texts, emails or social media posts that you have engaged in will likely be the subject of consideration by the Court at a later date which may affect your outcome.
Your focus should be on your children and their best interests – do not focus on what is fair or what you want. Instead, focus on your children’s future rather than being caught up in the emotions of the breakup of your relationship.
Lastly, it is important to not discuss the separation, feelings about your former partner, or legal proceedings with your children. This may confuse your children and the nature of putting one parent against the other may cause your children long term emotional and psychological damage.
You may think it is convenient and easy to get away with hiding or disposing of assets. However, you should not hide income or property, nor should you deplete funds from bank accounts, sell or transfer your assets. For example, gifting a car to a friend, selling something at a reduced price, or buying an expensive item to reduce the value of the asset pool.
Your actions will end up being revealed and not only will you be expected to provide disclosure of where the assets have gone, the Court may also find that you have wasted the assets of the relationship or add them back to the pool. The Court also has power under section 106B of the Family Law Act to set aside any transaction that is designed to defeat your ex-partner’s claim.
On a similar note, you should not move forward financially too quickly by buying property or investing before you have finalised financial matters with your ex-partner. Doing this will make things complicated and expensive to unravel and settle.
Lastly, do not agree to divide property without having it documented and formalised by way of a Consent Order or a Binding Financial Agreement. You may think you and your ex-partner are on “good terms” and have a trusting relationship, however, by simply reaching an agreement and dividing the property does not end the financial relationship. This may leave you exposed to a claim in the future.
If you are going through a separation, it is important to get legal advice on the above factors and implications as early as possible. Please contact our experienced family lawyers on (08)9322 1966 or email email@example.com.