Until death do us part” …may not always be the case for some couples who tie the knot.
While there were just under 50,000 divorces in Australia in 20181, over the long-term, it’s been found that many divorced people end up disadvantaged compared to their still-married counterparts.2
Divorce can be tough emotionally and financially. So, what can you do to beat these odds?
It’s never easy to start over but working through your financial situation soon after your relationship ends may help you plan the next stage of your life and move forward with more confidence.
Gather financial documents
You’ll probably have a lot going on if you’re in the middle of a separation and it can be easy to get paralysed by the change in front of you. One good way to start is to get together all your information resources: This includes things like your:
Bank and super statements
History of your employment and payslips
Any property deeds/mortgage or investment statements
Will and estate plans
Personal and business tax returns
This material will be crucial when it comes to working with a divorce lawyer/mediator and with a financial planner or accountant.
Understand your financial situation
Moving to a single income could change your circumstances significantly (bills your spouse used to pay become yours, bills you used to pay become theirs). So, it’s important to have a plan for managing your new financial situation.
Having a clear picture of what you earn versus what you spend will tell you where you stand. If you find that your income cannot match your expenses, you may need to make some changes.
Start by tracking your spending. There are budget planners and phone apps you can use. Alternatively, simply download your bank statements and keep a record of your receipts.
Make sure to include everything from your rent or mortgage, utilities, kids’ education etc, to what you spend on entertainment. You’ll also need to include any debt repayments such as personal loans.
Next, calculate your total income. This includes what you earn if you’re employed, any Centrelink benefits if applicable, as well as any child support you may be entitled to post the separation.
If you own an investment property or managed investment fund, also include any regular income you’re receiving from rent or dividends.
Close joint accounts
As soon as possible, close any joint bank accounts or credit cards and reopen them under your name.
If your bills are paid under your partner’s name, you’ll also need to update this and any insurance policies you share. Lastly, redirect any of your income that is paid into a shared account to your own.
Manage your property and assets
When it comes to dividing up your assets, it can get extremely complicated (and emotional) so you may want to engage a family lawyer to mediate or obtain your own legal advice.
During this process, you’ll need to work out who gets what: the car, home, furniture. You probably need to divide up your super, investments, and any joint debt.
Records of your income and any evidence that proves how much you’ve financially contributed to the relationship, will be important. And if there’s children involved, this too will affect how your financial assets are divided.
You don’t have to go through a separation alone. There are many online Government resources as well as counsellors and financial advisers that can help to make this process a little less painful.
Professionals support networks can guide you through the legal requirements and provide advice about dividing assets/debts, such as a property that is held in both your names. They can also assist you in reviewing and changing your will.
You may also want to use a financial adviser as they can support you in planning out your future finances such as your super, housing situation, estate planning and life insurance. Please contact us on 0438 334 334 if we can be of any assistance .
Bottom line: Going through a separation is a highly emotional time so making too many big decisions alone may not be in your best interest. Lean on professional support and focus on building your future—the grass may be a lot greener!
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics: 3310.0 – Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2018 Released 27/11/2019
2 Australian Institute of Family Studies: Divorce legacy lingers in older age – 26 July 2018
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