Separating or divorcing couples will need a divorce checklist in Australia so they can settle property, assets, and finances amicably. Property settlement is the term used for an arrangement of dividing a divorced couple’s assets, property, and finances.
It’s never easy for people to separate or divorce with their significant other. Moreover, going through the divorce process can make ex-couples more stressed. When two people marry they also legally own their partner’s property, assets, and even their spouse’s bank account.
Hence, it’s important for couples to talk with their partner and draft a divorce checklist in Australia. With this list, they can note down what steps they need to do and which things need to be divided. This article will offer a divorce checklist in Australia for separating or divorcing couples. Here’s a divorce checklist in Australia for documents needed throughout various steps:
- ▢ Marriage certificate
- ▢ Translation of Marriage certificate (For couples married abroad or who have a relationship with a foreign partner)
- ▢ Proof of the separation date
- ▢ Birth certificate
- ▢ Passport
- ▢ Bank, superannuation statements, and any proof of opened joint bank accounts or joint credit cards
- ▢ Insurance policies
- ▢ Tax records
- ▢ Any useful information in an email account
- ▢ Car registration
- ▢ Bank account, credit card, or store card statements
- ▢ Loan statements
- ▢ Utility bills
- ▢ Property documents (lease, deeds, mortgage papers)
- ▢ Investment statements
- ▢ Government benefit accounts
- ▢ Affidavits
- ▢ Divorce application fees
Keeping Track of Property, Assets, Liabilities, and Finances
Property, assets, liabilities, and finances are evidence of the economic value of marriage. If people suspect that their relationship will end in divorce, they should begin collecting and organising their records. It’s more difficult to determine evidence and facts in a divorce proceeding.
Moreover, some spouses may hide, modify, or even destroy their own records to make a resolution that only favours them. A partner can be at risk of financial hardship if he/she doesn’t keep proper records and have a thorough understanding of his/her financial status. Here is a list of what partners should include in their divorce checklist in Australia.
- ▢ Tax returns
- ▢ Wills and other estate-related documents
- ▢ House or condo deeds
- ▢ Subscriptionor financial agreements
- ▢ Rental agreement
- ▢ Property lease
- ▢ Mortgage
- ▢ Life insurance policies
- ▢ Pension
- ▢ Superannuation
- ▢ Brokerage
- ▢ Credit card and loan statements
- ▢ Separate financial accounts or joint bank accounts
- ▢ Car registrations
- ▢ Assets like art, jewellery, antiques, furniture, appliances, gadgets
- ▢ Inherited items
- ▢ Animals or pets
Divorce Checklist in Australia: Things To Do After Divorce
Truly, a divorce checklist in Australia can help couples keep track of everything they own. However, it’s also important to consider additional factors before a couple decides to separate or divorce. Here are important things to consider before separating or divorcing.
Understanding the Family Law Act
According to the Family Law Act 1975, separation is defined as process in which couples separate due to notwithstanding cohabitation. It is also stated in this Act that those who separate may either continue to live separately or live together. However, separated couples who continue to live together under one roof should prove that they:
- Stopped wearing their wedding rings
- Refused to help each other with household chores
- Stopped sexual activity
- Proclaimed their separation publicly
- Stopped going to social gatherings together or as a couple
- Made a separate bank account of their own
Couples who have been separated for 12 months may then apply for divorce. De facto couples still have the same rights as married couples. However, according to section 90SB of the Family Law Act, courts may only grant property settlement to de facto couples if:
- The relationship ended after 2 years
- There is a child in the de facto relationship
- The party seeking property orders made significant and substantial contributions to the relationship.
- The relationship is or was registered under prescribed state law or territory.
Considering Marriage Counselling or Therapy
On rare occasions, some couples may intend to reconcile, learn from their dispute, and give their relationship another chance. Couples may add this option to their divorce checklist in Australia if they wish to reconcile. Marriage counsellors help disputed couples improve their relationship whether they decide to make up or end things permanently. They may help with:
- Addressing current or childhood trauma
- Explaining the concept of accountability when one makes a mistake
- Make suggestions in order to maintain and improve the couple’s mental well-being
- Provide exercises and activities that help couples improve their relationship
Perhaps parenting matters are the source of never-ending disputes between divorced or separated couples. Some couples tend to argue about who gets legal custody of the child or who will have sole parental responsibility over their child. Sole parental responsibility is only granted to a parent if the other parent doesn’t adhere to the child’s best interests that include the benefit:
- Of having a meaningful relationship with both parents and other significant people in their life
- Of being protected from any type of harm, abuse, or neglect
If parents are able to agree on childcare arrangements, both can receive equal shared parental responsibility over their child. This means that both parents get to make major decisions for their children. However, the parent with legal custody can make day-to-day decisions for the child. It’s important for couples to add childcare arrangements to their divorce checklist in Australia.
As mentioned, it’s important that couples keep track of everything they own before, during, and after a divorce. But, how does one keep proper documentation of their assets, properties, and finances? Here are some tips for couples to help properly document everything they own:
- Undertake searches for property/titles
- Have copies of information regarding businesses, mortgages, investments, and superannuation from employers and agencies
- Draft a history of work/employment
- Have a snapshot of bank accounts
- Summarise a list of assets and debts
Now, all of these are sensitive and critical information. Hence, it’s important to keep all of this information in a safe place like a flash drive, on their computers, or with someone they trust. Couples may also choose to update and create new passwords for their bank accounts, computer, or phones.
Changing Location or Careers
Separation or divorce usually results in couples finding another place, city, or state to live in, and even the option of choosing a new career path. This may involve a spouse changing his/her postal address. It’s important to note that higher earning parties have the obligation to provide spousal maintenance to their former spouse if they have a lower income.
Spousal maintenance is a form of financial payment made to a lower-earning party. However, the lower-earning party must prove that they don’t have the capability or means to support themselves financially. This is another complicated process in separation or divorce. Thus, it’s a good time for couples to add the option of changing location or careers to their divorce checklist in Australia.
Work Out Child Support Payments and Separate Accounts
Changing careers may also affect how a parent pays child support. A parent won’t want to be in a situation where he/she couldn’t afford to pay child support and go bankrupt. It’s really expensive to go through the whole divorce process. Hence, it’s important to quickly plan out what to do with child support payments and maybe open new bank accounts to establish financial independence.
It’s also advisable to close down any joint accounts that a spouse used to share with his/her ex-spouse. If both ex-couples can work out an amicable separation, they may decide to opt for a separate bank account instead of a joint account. This prevents them from also having future joint liabilities and credit card debt in the long run.
Seeking Legal Advice From a Family Lawyer
One of the most important factors to consider before opting for separation or divorce is seeking legal advice. JB Solicitors is a leading family law firm that continues to aid couples in the divorce process and how to conduct property settlement. Our lawyers understand that couples value their property, assets, and finances, so we make careful and effective approaches to dividing them.
Not all divorce cases or legal matters have to end up in court, since this requires couples to spend a huge amount of time and money in order to reach a conclusion. We at JB Solicitors offer mediation services where couples can address their issues and reach an amicable agreement with a mediator. Our fixed fees for divorce matters can help disputed couples settle their payments accordingly.
Contact a family lawyer today if you need help drafting a divorce checklist in Australia.