When should I start talking to a lawyer about separation?

Why you should take action early in your separation

As a major life event, separation turns everything on its head. And while the emotional toll is usually evident, the financial impact is not something you should ignore.

Separation is also a time when you need support, advice, and information the most. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand your situation and ensure that your former partner’s actions do not impact your assets or your interests. 

For example, a family lawyer can seek orders to protect your property and limit its sale or transfer. 

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The difference between separation and divorce

When you think about separation, it’s understandable if you mentally lump it together with divorce. But this understanding is not only incorrect, it can also cause you problems.

Separation is not defined by the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA). Instead, it refers to the state when one or both parties no longer believe there is a partnership and reconciliation is unattainable.

On the other hand, divorce is defined as a situation where you and your partner have lived separately for at least 12 months, and there is no reasonable chance of resuming married life. When the Family Law Act was introduced, it implemented “no-fault divorce” in Australia for the first time. Separation is central to this idea, because it establishes an irretrievable breakdown between the parties (a prerequisite for divorce). Marriage separation can lead to a range of property issues.

How you can protect your property during separation

A separation can be a messy affair. In most cases, there are a lot of “what ifs” in the air – one of the most pressing of which is the division of property.

This is why it’s important to protect your property before your financial agreements are completed. If you believe your ex-partner will attempt to sell or transfer property you have a right to – or if they have already disposed of it – it’s important to seek the expertise of a family lawyer.

One way you can protect your property is by having your lawyer attain a court order which forbids the sale of joint property. If property has already been sold, a lawyer can seek a freezing order that can prohibit the sale money from being withdrawn or used by anyone.

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Talk to us about your situation

Whether your relationship which has broken down was a marriage or a de facto relationship, you can start negotiations about dividing property straight away. Yet, a marriage separation is not always clean cut, because emotions and grievances can understandably could the judgement of both parties.

Seeking legal advice is not only for divorce. When you separate, your interests are at risk as well as your property. Legal advice can help you understand your options, while a family lawyer’s expertise can freeze and prohibit the sale of your assets as well as help create a binding property agreement.

For confidential advice on separation in your personal situation, contact the McCarthy Durie Lawyers team here or call 07 3370 5100.