Australia: Your separation checklist - to be considered, to protect you and your family

Last Updated: 15 September 2013
Article by Melanie Rubin


Thinking of separating from your partner or are you already separated? To protect you and your family here are some things to consider.

When couples separate or one party decides to end the relationship there are lots of things that need to be sorted out. Separation takes its toll on people emotionally especially when one has to start the discussions of the separation with their partner, children and extended family.

You will have some difficult decisions to make during your separation, like:

  • Will you stay in the house together during separation?
  • If not who is going to move out of the house?
  • Who will pay for which expenses?
  • What will the arrangements be for the children - where will they primarily live and when will the other parent see them?


In order for you to ensure you have the proper assistance during this time, it is crucial that you seek legal advice as early as possible. Seeking legal advice early is your first step to a well negotiated and friendly settlement being reached.

At Swaab we recognise the importance of a legal team you can trust and rely on and who will help you through this time so that you move to the next phase of your life and are able to rebuild your future with confidence.


Here is a checklist of some practical things for you to consider upon separation:

  • Make an appointment to see a lawyer as soon as possible. Knowing your rights early will protect you and your children, your assets and hopefully prevent court action and help you reach an amicable solution.
  • Sit down and try to talk to your partner about your separation and see if you are able to agree on interim arrangements for the children's and each other's support including the living arrangements during the separation.
  • Try get legal advice before you move out of your home as it's often recommended to stay there. There are things to consider as to whether it is best to move out or stay.
  • If your partner leaves with the children, try to set up arrangements as soon as possible to see them regularly and make sure that the children have your mobile number so they can contact you. If the children are staying with you set up arrangements for your partner to spend time with them.Make sure the arrangements are appropriate for their ages.
  • If you move out consider what personal items to take with you such as family photos, items of sentimental value and heirlooms. You could slow down a negotiated settlement if you take things without speaking to your partner first.It's true that many of these items can be divided later but if you don't want to be sidetracked by a dispute over a sentimental item later, you might consider taking it when you leave. Also take your personal papers and computer with you.
  • If you do move out you will need to lodge the necessary change of address notices as soon as possible and have your mail held or redirected. Don't rely on your partner to forward important mail to you unopened.
  • You might consider opening a post office box in your name so you can easily receive your mail without fear of it being opened by your partner if you separate under the one roof.
  • Set up a new email address if there is any chance your partner can access your current email address. Changing passwords to any accounts your partner might have access to is also recommended.
  • Check and print out balances of all banking accounts, home loans, term deposits, investments, store cards, credit cards, overdrafts and lines of credit. Consider changing passwords to any personal banking information your partner may have access to.
  • Keep an eye on account balances and any movements in them. Get legal advice if you notice anything unusual.
  • If your partner leaves and takes a car registered in your name or joint names you will need to make sure that it remains registered and insured.As the owner you are still liable for losses if there is an accident.
  • Visit the Department of Human Services website to estimate the amount of child support payable and The Child Support website for information about how to apply to pay or receive child support and how much will be payable.
  • Have lawyers document any financial or parenting agreements you reach. If it is not properly documented it won't be binding and enforceable.
  • Copy financial information and other important documents on your computer to a CD or USB drive.
  • Even if you are separating under the one roof take copies of all the important personal documents together such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, citizenship certificates, medical records, bank records, superannuation statements and school reports.
  • Assets acquired or received after separation will be taken into account in a settlement so consider getting legal advice sooner rather than later.
  • If violence, intimidation or harassment are in issue make an appointment with the Chamber Magistrate or go to your Local Police to ascertain whether you should apply for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order.

To make an appointment to ensure you will be able to relax knowing that your matter is in our hands and that you are getting the best advice possible to assist you during this time, please contact:

For further information please contact:

Melanie Rubin, Senior Associate
Phone: +61 2 9233 5544

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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