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Family separation

The Family Court divorce process can be challenging for everyone involved. Here, we guide you through some of the top financial aspects of family separation and provide a few helpful tips and resources.

Step by step guide

1. Protect your privacy

Consider changing your passwords for mobile devices, bank accounts, and social media. If your address changes, update your contact details with banks and other organisations. Consider whose names are on credit cards, joint accounts, home utilities, e.g. water, gas, electricity; mortgage, leases, loans, and change them if necessary.

You may want to also explore our important pointers on what to do when you separate.

2. Contact Centrelink

Your change in marital or relationship status may qualify you for some government assistance, so inform Centrelink as soon as you can. Support like this is incredibly helpful when your circumstances may be uncertain.

3. Seek advice if you’re unsure

Every relationship is different, and each separation has a unique set of circumstances. Read our other articles on creating financial independence and building your divorce support team for guidance on how to navigate your situation.

4. Gather essential documentation

Review our separation checklist as a further guide. Keep notes about conversations to refer to later in discussions or if you need details for Family Court. For example: changes in accounts or mortgage payments, sales of furniture or assets, discussions about the welfare of your children, including school fees, family up-keep payments, etc.

5. Your financials - including savings accounts, credit and debt, loans, mortgage, superannuation, other assets - are important to understand

Understanding the family’s finances and your own helps you make more confident financial decisions. Our Managing money guide (PDF 1MB), provides a simple process to help you gain an understanding of your current financial position and put steps in place with the aim of getting your finances back on track.

Have a look at these helpful pointers on future proofing your independence.

6. Create your support network

This can help lighten your emotional load and help to keep the situation in perspective.

7. Children, school and work

If you have school age children inform their schools about possible affects, e.g. emotional, and attendance (if you’ve had to move). You might also choose to inform work about your situation as well.

Remember: de factos divorce too. Your de facto status means the rules and regulations surrounding the Family Law act apply.

The difficulty for parents

When a relationship ends your income and expenses are very likely to change. Until you get used to the new rhythm, you will need to understand what you have coming in and what your debts and outgoings are.

In what will be a difficult time emotionally, it’s important to understand your financial situation. Plan with a budget and, if you’re experiencing financial difficulties, especially as a parent, seek out help. We understand there will be enough pressure, which is why speaking with us and understanding your finances can help you take control. We’re here to help with resources and advice on your banking. We can help set up your new budget, and calculate your incomings and spending.

Centrelink may be able to help with information on payments and loans.

Single parent loans are something to consider. The Federal Department of Human Services may be able to help with financial assistance in special circumstances. Always get advice from a financial professional about any loans you may be considering. Debt can add to an already overwhelming situation.

Another financial worry if you’ve split from your partner with a mortgage and child is who pays what. If both your names are on the mortgage, then you're both liable. In reaching a property and financial settlement, keep notes of who is paying what and how. If you have a joint mortgage and redraw facility, monitor it and inform us (or your bank) about any change in circumstance as soon as possible. If you're unsure about anything, seek legal or financial advice.

We understand the difficulties when you’re separating from your partner can’t be underestimated, which is why websites hosting helpful, engaging content for families experiencing separation can be so helpful. Keeping the lines of communication open is a top priority for children. They want to be heard and have their parents speak with one another.

The resources on this Commission for Children and Young People’s site can help parents and children cope.