Separation Agreements are a type of Binding Financial Agreement. A separation Agreement is entered into in anticipation of, or at the conclusion of a same sex couple relationship. These Agreements can provide for the division of the parties’ property and maintenance.
Separation is never easy, especially when children are involved. There are always lots of issues that need to be addressed. You may need to organize new financial arrangements, possibly arrange new accommodation and transport. Then there is the difficult job of informing friends and family, which can affect your long-standing friendships. When children are involved a great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure their lives and wellbeing get impacted as little as possible.
Even if you are not married, separation can still be complicated and involve legal paperwork. When children, child support, maintenance and property are affected by separation, legal advice and formal documents of agreements reach is likely to be of assistance.
Disputes and Resolutions
Following separation, there may be disagreement about the management of parenting and financial issues. Family Dispute Resolution mediation, supported by your own legal advice, soon after separation may be of assistance and help to avoid disagreements becoming entrenched.
Family violence is a major reason for relationship breakdown. If you are experiencing family violence, please contact your local police who can provide immediate assistance and / or family violence support service who can support you to understand your situation and help you to formulate options for moving forward. Legal advice about parenting, child support, maintenance and property settlement issues may be of assistance at this time.
Talk with a Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialist
Just as no two experiences of relationship breakdown will be the same, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the resolution of issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship – what works for one person may not necessarily be the right solution for you.
Mathews Family Law is one of the most experienced family law firms in Melbourne with the knowledge to guide you through the most challenging of experiences.
If you are contemplating separation or divorce, book in an obligation free 15-minute consultation with one of our accredited specialist family lawyers to understand your rights and options.
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If your former partner chooses to dispute the date you separated, you may be required to prove when the separation happened. You may be in a position where you live with your former partner temporarily while you make other arrangements. In this event, you will want proof of the date on which separation occurred. One way to prove you have separated from your partner is to have it confirmed in dated written format, ideally signed by both you and your former partner. If a written and dated document will be difficult to acquire, then a text message to your former partner can often suffice.
Proof of Separation
If a precise date of separation isn’t known because it was a gradual process that happened over some time, it may be required for the Family Court to determine when the separation occurred. In this circumstance, the Family Court will look at factors such as:
- When did you and your former partner start sleeping in separate rooms?
- Did either you or your former partner inform family and friends that you had separated?
- When were you and your former partner’s financial affairs formally separated?
- When were you and your former partner last intimate with each other?
- When did you and your former partner stop carrying out domestic duties such as washing and cooking for each other?
- When did you or your former partner lodge formal documents, such as ATO or Centrelink documents, on the basis that you were separated?
What are some of the first steps you can take following separation?
- Setting up a bank account in your name may be a good first step to gaining financial independence. The date on which the new back account was created may also provide supporting evidence of when separation occurred.
- Formalizing your separation may include agreeing with your former partner to close any joint bank accounts you have together. Arrange for any scheduled transfers to now be facilitated via a personal bank account that only you can access.
- Carry out a financial audit to identify and value all the assets, liabilities and superannuation – in your name, your former partner’s name or an entity controlled by you and / or your former partner.
- Obtain a copy of your current superannuation member statement.
- Consider if it is necessary to protect yourself against the risk of your former partner drawing down from your bank accounts or incurring credit card debt without your prior consent and instruct your bank as to any protective action you wish to have taken.
Take the next step, contact Mathews Family Law
The next step is to book a free 15-minute telephone consultation with an accredited family law specialist at Mathews Family Law and receive specific advice about your situation.
Book a free consultation online today.
Pretty much what you would have done if one of you had moved out. But now you may be required to prove that you are leading “separate lives”. Social Security law breaks down the relationship into five categories when determining whether or not there was separation under one roof.
1. The financial aspects of the relationship. Have you separated out your finances? Do you hold different bank accounts? Is there a property settlement or did you seek legal advice about dividing your property?
2. Nature of the household. This factor considers the physical separation within the house, making you and your spouse independent of one another. Are you living in separate rooms? Have you stopped eating together? Do you no longer help each other with laundry, cleaning, cooking and shopping?
3. Social Aspects of the Relationship. This has to do with how you are viewed by others. Do you no longer go out together – to functions, parties, holidays – as a couple? Have you told other people that you are no longer together? Do one or both of you have a relationship with someone else?
4. Absence of a sexual relationship.
5. Nature of the Commitment. This factor considers whether the level of commitment between the partners has changed. Have you stopped discussing joint plans for the future? Would you help the other person in a time of crisis?
A court may consider any or all of these factors when deciding whether or not the separation requirement was fulfilled.
There are a number of practical steps to take regarding your credit cards after you separate.
- Write down the date you actually separated. Even better, send an email to your spouse or partner stating clearly that “on May 1, 2014, we officially separated”. This date may become important later on when and if debts need to be divided. If your spouse incurred the debt after the date of separation, the court may hold him responsible for it when dividing up property.
- If possible, get rid of joint credit cards. If you are the primary card holder – great! You can lower the credit limit, which prevents your spouse from going crazy with the card and running up more debt. The best option is to cancel the card all together, if the company allows it. If your name is on the account, no matter who runs up the debt, you are also responsible.
- Make sure to print out all of your balances from your credit card account, including all purchases and payments. Even if you are held accountable, when the time comes to draw up a property settlement, you may be able to have these listed as your spouse’s debt and deducted from his share of the assets.
- Discuss with your lawyer signing a legal separation agreement. Written correctly, this may limit your liability for your spouses’ debts, including credit card debts.
Many people find themselves in the same situation. You’re still receiving the same income but suddenly you need to pay for two homes. The law in Australia recognizes this problem and allows for something called “separation under one roof”. This means you are still living in the same house but are no longer together as a married couple.