Separating is a confusing time and your mind can be running at a 100 miles per hour wondering where you are going to live, how you will share the children, how will you support yourself and so on!
This can be exponentially scary for stay-at-home mums with young children who find that their only source of financial income has been via their husband or partner as they have stayed at home to look after the children as the primary care giver and their partner as the provider.
All of a sudden, your partner announces they want a divorce and it feels like the rug has been pulled from underneath you!
There may be a mortgage or rent to be paid whereby your partner is on the bank loan or tenancy agreement so are liable to continue to pay.
There needs to be time for uncoupling of finances, change living arrangements and establish shared parenting of the children. At least 3 - 6 months is required until consent & property orders are finalised otherwise chaos ensues.
You may be the partner who is leaving and may be in a hurry to start a new life wanting to sell up, give up current rental home or start splitting assets.
STOP! It takes time to plan and prepare for major changes without disrupting the household prematurely.
It’s important that you slow things down to be able to plan and manage the priorities without everything having to be done immediately creating more problems than necessary. You really need to assess options holistically to assess if they are going to work, instead of going head long into major changes only to realise you hadn’t thought them through.
As a priority It is beneficial to start;
1. Collating your household assets, debts, super, investments, business, shares, cars, boats etc
2. Setting the ground rules together on shared parenting with a pre-populated co-parenting plan that has all the options to consider
3. Pay for a consultation with a lawyer to obtain possible entitlements without signing up with them ongoing
These actions above will at least prepare you for negotiation. It’s important to be fair and respectful to enable open communication and creativity to come up with options and solutions to reach agreement.
Reaching agreement may not be reached between you both but you should at least attempt to negotiate together which is known as “kitchen table” mediation.
If that doesn’t work attend mediation for shared parenting then a separate session for property with a mediator who is a neutral facilitator to help you explore the issues, negotiate and reach agreement. Agreements reached can then be taken to a lawyer to be turned into consent orders or property orders.
If you still don’t reach agreement, then that’s when lawyers will need to get involved to either attempt lawyer assisted mediation or represent you in court. This should be your last resort as it is so costly financially which can exceed tens of thousands of dollars and is a very lengthy process taking 12+months.
You can always consider self-representing in court whereby you can join Facebook group familylaw 101 which is an education platform providing free and fee workshops to help you gain an understanding on how to self rep, how to instruct your lawyer, understand the court process roadmap, how to write an affidavit and so much more.
You can also approach legal aid to see if you qualify for legal assistance.
So, there is a lot to plan, prepare and negotiate before solutions are agreed and implemented.
Stay in your home and keep your regular routine during the uncoupling process.
To go ahead and instigate changes immediately as soon as “I want a divorce” is declared can send you both into chaos, thrown into financial instability and major impact on the security of the children. The stress created jeopardises your ongoing coparenting relationship as blame, resentment and anger fuels conflict.
Children need to see that their parents can manage this family restructure with them as a priority with the least disruption, conflict and chaos as possible.
A Divorce Coach can help you stay empowered, future focused and gain courage and confidence to plan the priority actions to be done to get you through the challenges ahead.
There are key post separation actions to take such as obtaining a separate bank account, updating your will, notifying the school etc. Obtain a free post separation checklist here
Author – Cheryl Duffy – Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author