Like any major life event, the key to success in your divorce journey and negotiations is the quality of your divorce preparations. Doing your homework prior to leaving and before entering settlement negotiations may save you exponentially in dollars, time and emotional angst.
This is why we have allocated the “P” in “PROCESS” to Preparation!
We recommend that before you leave (or before even broaching the subject of separation or divorce with your partner) you start to prepare by:
1. taking or taking copies of all (available) financial records (see our Blog “DIY Divorce Negotiations – 10 Practical Tips” and our next blog “”R” is for Record”).
2. checking that the redraw account on your mortgage requires joint signatures. If it doesn’t, consider withdrawing the redraw amount and putting into a separate bank account in your name – or if things appear more amicable, in joint names. Also consider closing down any joint credit cards / loans if you can – and if you don’t need access to them. You might, however, want to open one in your own name – it can be difficult to do so post-separation unless you have a strong income record.
3. making sure you remove anything precious or sentimental from the house. Remember that it may be difficult to recover it later (if it still exists) and it is unlikely a judge will bee concerned later on with what happened to Aunt Lily’s patchwork quilt or your golf sticks. So do it now!
4. considering obtaining a real estate valuation if you are planning on leaving a house that is owned by either you or your partner prior to doing so.
5. preparing a parenting plan that you believe would best suit your children. Put that plan into place as far as possible before leaving.
6. putting together your Support Team – one of the major divorce “preparation” mistakes people make is not getting their support networks in place until there is a crisis. A good support network includes external support (your lawyer and financial adviser) and internal support (your GP and psychologist). See more in our upcoming blog ““S” is for Support.”
7. completing a budget, calculating any child support that you may obtain or have to pay (as calculated by the Child Support Calculator) and obtaining legal advice as to the percentage of the assets a court would be expected to award you and whether you would be entitled to any spousal maintenance.
8. considering what type of divorce settlement will best suit you. Your lawyer’s responsibility is to provide you with certain advice as to the percentage of the assets they think you are entitled to. However, you will also need to assess what the assets are that you would like to keep. Ideally you should obtain financial planning advice to assist you to decide whether you should be aiming to keep the house or looking to keep more of the superannuation.
9. not doing anything to unnecessary anger or annihilate your former partner. Revenge is not always the best medicine – particularly when it could mean the difference between a harmonious, cheap and quick settlement or a vitriolic, drawn out and expensive court battle. (See more in our upcoming blog “C” is for Communication).
10. giving thought to what would be an appropriate process for your divorce settlement discussions with your former partner and what other processes may be available to you. For example, you might want to directly negotiate with your ex by email or through a series of meetings. Mediation or negotiations via your lawyers may be appropriate if private negotiation is not (See more in our blog “DIY Divorce Settlement Discussions – Why Not“). Think about your bottom line, your key messages and your alternatives to the negotiation. Again, reach out to your support network to reality check your considerations and views. (See more in our upcoming blog “”S” is also for Strategy”).
11. creating a new email address. We know its uncool to have more than ten tips but in this day and age please please be careful of technology. More and more people are reading each other’s texts and emails – and having a secure password may not always keep you safe. We recommend at a minimum to set up a new email address that your former partner does not know about. And think about changing your postal address as well – particularly if you are the one that is moving out!
12. Review your will, life insurance policies and your superannuation nominated beneficiaries to make sure they accurately reflect your wishes now that you have separated or are considering separation.