The financial impact of divorce and separation can be huge. There are legal costs to consider, not to mention how the mortgage and associated bills and childcare costs are going to be paid moving forward. Your employment and earning prospects may be limited especially if you are the main carer for the children of the relationship. This may all seem very overwhelming, but there are things you can do to help reduce the impact your financial burden.
Obtain good financial and legal advice
Ensuring you get good financial advice when divorcing or separating is essential. We recommend you speak with both a family lawyer and an accountant or financial planner in order to get advice on the most efficient way to move forward.
The long-term value of obtaining legal representation from an experienced family lawyer should not be underestimated. Apart from giving you assurance as to your legal position it can help you receive a more favourable final property settlement. There are numerous ways you can help keep your legal feels as low as possible, our family lawyers are happy to discuss this with you during your first appointment.
Attempt Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Legal costs involved in reaching a property settlement can be further minimised by attending ADR. ADR helps to minimise legal fees and avoids going through a costly court process. It can provide a speedy resolution and assist you to work out a viable short-term plan even while you are finalising the terms of your property settlement. Even if you intend to reach a property settlement without going to court, it is important that you seek legal advice as it can help reduce stress by providing you with an understanding of your rights and entitlements.
Plan how bills will be paid and set a budget
If separating couples are on amicable terms and there are no concerns or allegations as to family violence, it is possible that both parties can continue to reside in the family home. Parties can still finalise the terms of their property agreement during this period and attend ADR. This will allow both parties to plan and prepare for their future financial circumstances without the burden of an extra mortgage, rent and living expenses.
Any discussion as to property settlement should include arrangements regarding the payment of any debts incurred during the course of the relationship as well as the ongoing costs of maintaining the property of the relationship, as soon as possible. This will help minimise additional interest, penalties or costs associated with non-payment of debts. Although you may wish to remain in the family home for emotional reasons, one might also consider options involving obtaining a smaller home, and considering ways to fill in to deal with a reduction of income such as finding higher paying employment, starting a business from home, and applying for Centrelink payments.
Preparing a budget and discussing what each party can afford to pay may help to ensure that both parties know exactly where they stand financially. Moneysmart.gov.au has tools and information available on ways to better manage your money on a low income, as well as offering financial counselling, and urgent help with money in situations of crisis.
Know your superannuation entitlements in divorce or separation
Superannuation has become one of most couple’s largest marital assets and can be shared as part of the terms of property settlement. Financial contributions to the marriage or relationship are not the only factor considered by the Courts when assessing the value of a Superannuation split. Non-financial contributions such as, care of the children of the relationship and improvements and maintenance by a party of the family home may also be considered. The process of splitting superannuation as part of a property settlement can be complex. We recommend seeking further advice and guidance from an experienced family lawyer.
Obtaining a share of the other parties’ superannuation by way of a superannuation splitting order can help to provide better long-term financial security and ensure both parties are more comfortable in retirement.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Separation and divorce can be overwhelming, especially in circumstances where one party to the relationship may not have had significant involvement in the management of the family finances previously. It is important to seek advice.
If you need financial support, contact Centrelink who can advise as to any relevant payment entitlements.
It is also important to look after your mental wellbeing so you’re able to make important decisions about your future! If you need emotional support, speak to your General Practitioner who can recommend appropriate counselling services.
The financial impact of divorce and separation can be overwhelming, ensuring you get good legal and financial advice early on when divorcing or separating is critical.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (08) 8344 6422 or email [email protected].