Divorce can be a long, complicated process. Not only is it an emotional decision, but it is also a significant financial decision. If you are separated or considering separating from your spouse, there are numerous things you should know and need to do in order to prepare for your divorce and make sure you are protected. Our divorce lawyers in our Brisbane office share some key steps to take before filing for divorce.
Know When You Can Get a Divorce
First of all, you and your spouse must be legally separated, with no chance of getting back together for at least 12 months and one day. If you have been married for less than two years, certain conditions apply to your divorce application. You and your spouse are entitled to get divorced if you both agree to counselling to discuss the possibility of reconciliation. If your counselling efforts are ineffective, you can ask the counsellor to complete a certificate that states he/she has discussed the possibility of reconciliation with you and your spouse. Should your spouse refuse to attend counselling altogether, you may still get divorced with the Court’s permission by filing an affidavit with your divorce application. We recommend speaking to one of our divorce lawyers in Brisbane before seeking the court’s permission.
Proof of Marriage & Separation
Proof of marriage would be a marriage certificate. Steps to show proof of separation may include telling organisations such as Centrelink or Child Support services, evidence of telling family and friends, and sorting out finances i.e. closing down joint bank accounts and changing your will.
If you are separated but living under the same roof, you must prove that you are living separate lives. For example, you may have evidence that you no longer live in the same room or cook meals for one another, and evidence that you are no longer treated like a couple in social situations.
Our divorce lawyers recommend gathering all relevant documents and creating copies of each document before applying for divorce. These include:
- Either a sole or joint application for divorce;
- Marriage certificate or as previously mentioned, a counselling certificate stating you were married for less than two years;
- An affidavit to support your application;
- Proof of citizenship that shows you are eligible to get divorced in Australia (either an Australian Citizenship Certificate or other proof of citizenship);
- A photocopy of a valid visa (if this applies to you)
You may also need to gather other documentation as either proof of separation or for the actual divorce process. These documents could be copies of your Will, change-of-name documentation, bank statements, lease documents for the family residence, mortgage documents or prenuptial agreement. Feel free to speak to our Brisbane team about what documentation you may need throughout the divorce process.
Look at Finances
As previously mentioned, separating finances is one way to prove you and your spouse have separated. Our divorce lawyers in Brisbane recommend closing joint accounts and cancelling credit cards you share with your spouse.
Here is a basic list of financial steps you might want to consider before filing for divorce:
- Open separate bank account for income
- Change any pins or online banking passwords
- Cancel joint bank accounts and cards
- Remove your name from any financial agreements (bills or loans) that aren’t a joint responsibility
- Update insurance policies, super and wills
- Work out how to make mortgage repayments until the property is settled
- Make a list of assets and debts and work together to decide who gets what
- Speak to Services Australia about whether or not you are entitled to government payments
- Speak to one of our divorce lawyers about spousal maintenance
- Make arrangements regarding your children’s expenses (school fees, child support etc)
Care of Children
If you and your spouse have children together, you must always consider the child’s best interests when making any decision. It is essential that you and your ex-spouse come to an arrangement where the children feel properly taken care of and safe. If a spouse moves out of the family home, the new accommodation must be suitable for children. Any inappropriate parental behaviour can be used against a spouse in a child custody matter. Ultimately, the court must be satisfied that the children are being cared for and not neglected.
Speak to Divorce Lawyers in Brisbane
Our focus at Emerson Family Law has always been to reach a resolution that puts you and your family’s best interests first. If you need some assistance in starting the divorce process, please reach out to our divorce lawyers in Brisbane. We offer a full range of family law services from filing for divorce to determining child custody and parenting arrangements.