The financial impact of divorce and separation can be huge. There are legal costs to consider, and 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 can be extremely beneficial. We recommend you speak with both a family lawyer and an accountant/financial planner to get advice on the most efficient way to move forward.

We cannot stress the long term value of obtaining legal representation from an experienced family lawyer, as it can help you receive a more favourable 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

Legal costs involved in reaching a property settlement can be further minimised by attending ADR. ADR minimises 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 while you are finalising your property settlement. Even if you plan 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 is no family violence, both parties can continue to reside in the family home. You can still finalise your property agreement during this period and attend ADR. This will allow both parties to plan and prepare for their future financial needs without the burden of an extra mortgage, rent and living expenses.

It is also important to discuss who will pay what regarding any debts obtained during the relationship and ongoing costs of maintaining the property of the relationship, as soon as possible. This will help minimise penalties or costs associated with non-payment of debts. Although you may wish to remain in the family home for emotional reasons, consider options involving obtaining a smaller home, ways you can fill any income gaps such as finding better paid work, starting a business from home, or applying for Centrelink payments.

Preparing a budget and discussing what each party can afford to pay ensures that both parties know exactly where they stand financially. Moneysmart.gov.au has tools and information on how to manage your money on a low income, financial counselling, and urgent help with money if you’re struggling or in crisis.

Know your superannuation entitlements in divorce or separation

Superannuation has become one of the largest marital assets and can be shared as part of the property settlement. Financial contributions are not the only factor considered when assessing the value of a Superannuation split. Non-financial contributions such as, care of children of the relationship and the family home may also be considered. Splitting Superannuation as part of a property settlement can be complex. This is why we recommend seeking further advice and guidance from an experienced family lawyer.

Getting a share of the other parties’ superannuation can help provide long term financial security and ensure you have money for retirement.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Separation and divorce can be very overwhelming, especially if you have not handled the family finances previously. It is important to reach out and find someone who can help guide you through the maze of finances and separation.

If you need financial support, contact Centrelink who can recommend which payment/s you may be entitled to.

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 GP who can recommend appropriate counselling services.

Conclusion

The financial impact of divorce and separation can be overwhelming, ensuring you get good financial advice early on when divorcing or separating can be extremely beneficial.

Planning how debts and bills will be paid, setting a budget and knowing your superannuation entitlements is important in keeping on top of your changing financial circumstances. Attempting ADR is another important factor in minimising legal costs throughout settlement negotiations.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on 03 8346 4900 or email [email protected].