Divorced or divorced?
In Australia, divorce refers to the process where two parties agree to legally end a marriage. On the other hand, a divorce does not involve any legal process. Divorce can take place in marriages as well as in actual relationships.
The breakdown of a relationship can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. It’s natural to go through a whirlwind of emotions. The mental toll it takes on a person is unparalleled, and in many cases one can feel that it hinders their decision-making ability.
You often find yourself completely lost, with no idea what to do next. While it is important to give yourself time to recover from the emotional shock of a divorce, it is also practical to be informed about the important steps to take.
While the post-divorce and post-divorce steps are quite similar, there can be minor differences, especially considering the respective legal and financial procedures.
It is well known within the legal landscape that the settlement of real estate after a divorce becomes the most contentious issue.
With that in mind, there are essential legal and financial steps that parties going through a divorce must take.
1. Collect important documents
Before estate division and settlement takes place, it is wise to have all necessary documents ready, including extra copies of documents. The documents may include title deeds, vehicle registration, and insurance policies.
In addition, it is recommended that you keep copies of your divorce decree, marriage certificates and even birth certificates before every legal step.
2. Update information and documents
Keep in mind that your personal documents may contain your ex-spouse’s last name or other information about your spouse.
These documents and other information may include:
- drivers license;
- Centrelink information;
- Medicare information;
- any bank cards; and
- private health insurance
These documents, among other important documents, should be updated immediately to reflect your current status.
3. Update wills
It is important to restructure existing probate plans and wills, as it is not uncommon for people to name their spouse as the executor or beneficiaries in their will. However, after a divorce, it is practical to update your will, especially to avoid potential disputes in the future.
In addition, it is also advisable to request that you as an executor or beneficiary be removed from your ex-spouse’s will.
4. Financial step
Couples often have money in joint accounts. All such joint accounts must be closed. In addition, if there are mutual funds in accounts, they must be paid out after a divorce.
Likewise, if you have set up direct debits from any of these accounts, you must notify all service providers of the change. These can be:-
- Internet, water and electricity providers;
- Memberships and Subscriptions;
- School fees for children (if applicable); and
- Phone bills (in the case of family SIM cards)
5. Change passwords
While not a feature of every relationship, it is common to have access to your partner’s computer, emails, and vice versa. Changing passwords becomes especially important when people are going through a disputed divorce.
In a disputed divorce, the parties do not agree on their divorce settlement and it often involves legal proceedings. To avoid personal disputes and to keep peace between both parties, it is recommended to update all passwords to restrict access.
Passwords can be updated for:-
- bank accounts
- Social media accounts (if applicable)
- Share Trading Accounts
6. Get legal advice
Given how tedious and complicated the post-divorce procedures are, it makes sense to seek legal advice from family lawyers who are experienced in handling complex divorce cases.
In any case, the circumstances are very unique. Therefore, following a standard procedure will not always help you. Instead, legal advice tailored to your specific situation will help you better navigate the complexities.
There are certain differences between a divorce and separation. A divorce involves a concrete legal step, while a legal separation does not involve legal proceedings.
For example, if you no longer live with your spouse in a household arrangement, this can be considered a divorce. Likewise, couples also sometimes opt for under the same roof separation where they stay in the same house but are separated from each other.
Because of these differences, the steps to take immediately after a divorce may vary slightly. Essentially, however, the essential steps remain the same.
1. Be explicit about the divorce
Often times, a divorce can feel “less serious” than a divorce because there aren’t many legal processes. When this happens, it’s normal to hope it gets better. If you have decided to divorce your ex-spouse, you should make this very clear.
Often this lack of clear communication leads to unnecessary complexity in the future. This confusion can also lead to greater emotional and mental stress. Therefore, clearly communicating the terms of your divorce is very important.
It is important that both parties are helped in the future by ensuring that this communication is documented. This is because the date of separation is often required in family law proceedings. For example, if the parties wish to file for divorce, they must have been separated for at least 12 months.
2. Choose place of residence
If you have decided to move out of your home after the divorce, you should think about your living situation. This step is especially important if children are involved.
The environment of the new home and the consequences for your child(ren) must be taken into account.
3. Collect Documents
Similar to a post-divorce scenario, it is necessary to collect all important documents and make copies where necessary. These documents can be: –
- Financial documents such as bank statements
- Vehicle Registration Papers
- Proprietary Titles Original Certificates and Copies
- Marriage certificate
- Documents relating to all other assets and liabilities
4. Financial step
The financial steps are also largely the same as those after a divorce. Since couples have joint assets and joint accounts, it is necessary to break those accounts.
This is crucial to avoid possible conflicts in the future. If both parties send their salary to the joint account, they must ensure that it is forwarded to their single bank account.
In mutual settlements, the assets in joint accounts can be divided equally. However, this will not always be the case with complicated divorces and legal intervention will be necessary.
5. Update passwords
Just like after a divorce, it is imperative that you create new passwords for all your accounts. It may not be a good idea to give your ex-spouse access to all your personal information. When updating passwords, you can include things like emails, social media accounts, banking passwords, debit card PINs, etc.
6. Want to update
If your ex-spouse has been nominated as primary beneficiary or executor of your will, it is important to change your executor and primary beneficiary. This also applies to pension funds.
7. Getting Legal Guidance
It is helpful to take advice from a lawyer to understand the best options for you and what your action plan should be.
In fact, it is best to consult a lawyer the moment you decide to break up. The lawyer will not only help you with the actual divorce process itself, but it is also important that an expert guides you through all the procedures after the divorce.
This article has provided an overview of the important steps to take after a divorce. The steps listed here are not exhaustive, in the sense that there are many additional steps to take, depending on your particular situation.
As with all family law cases, circumstances vary widely. In order to have a full understanding of what needs to be done, it is essential to get the help of a lawyer.
Lawyers have a wealth of experience in the field of family law. This helps them to draw up the exact post- or divorce plan for you. With their legal prowess, they can help you navigate through all the complex procedures.
Going through a divorce or separation is emotionally demanding. Ultimately, it’s important to have people by your side to take care of you.
John has over 10 years of experience in family law and commercial litigation, with John often called in to provide expertise in cases with an international element involving complex corporate, trust, partnership and valuation issues.
John is a nationally recognized family law mediator and Arbitrator† In his role as mediator, he uses his family law experience to facilitate the effective discussion between parties to reach a solution regarding their parental or property dispute. As an arbitrator, he provides his services to parties wishing to make binding decisions in property disputes.
His strong sense of community has led him to pioneer Charity Dinners in support of Beyond Blue & Autism Awareness Australia.
Contact us with John of JB Solicitors to discuss your legal concerns.