Are you considering filing for divorce?
Read this blog from accredited family mediator Ian Shann first!
Decide You Definitely Want To File For Divorce
This may be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make, so think hard and make sure you are happy with your decision.
You are the only person that can make that call. And, it may be infinitely preferable in the long term to stay together, despite short-term difficulties.
To avoid regrets down the line, know that you have tried to reconcile if that was an option. Try to maintain an open mind to your spouse’s points of view and accept that you may be partly responsible for the breakdown in the relationship and be prepared to change.
If you’re battling to reconcile and are prepared to try therapy, give serious consideration to counselling by a professional. Guided therapy can help you work out if divorce is the best decision for your family.
Once you’ve done that and you have still come to the conclusion that your relationship has irretrievably broken down, you’ll at least be able to negotiate the rocky road that lies ahead with a clear conscience knowing that you’ve tried your best.
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
While family and close friends are invaluable in providing much-needed support during this period, also try to obtain neutral support (and advice), to give you a more balanced outlook.
Talking to people who have experienced divorce can be helpful and, if you’re still battling, consider chatting to a professional counsellor. Whatever you do, do not isolate yourself – surround yourself with support as early as possible.
Under the Australian family law, couples need to have been separated for a minimum of 12 months before filing for divorce.
If you have been married for under two years, you will both need to attend counselling to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Get Legal Advice
Filing for divorce can be an emotional and stressful process and the legal procedure can also be quite complicated. As all divorces come with their own set of circumstances, you may be anxious about how the law might apply to your case, making the process even more daunting. The best advice is to get legal advice as soon as you realise that your relationship is heading for a separation.
Knowing your legal rights and obligations as well as knowing how the divorce process works and the various options you have at your disposal, will help to put your mind at ease. This will enable you to think more clearly and make decisions that are right for you and your children.
Experienced divorce lawyers and family mediators may also be able to give you practical information on financial, property and parenting matters and guide you through the divorce process. They may also inform you whether you’ll be eligible to receive child support or spousal maintenance.
Decide On A Sole or Joint Application
One of the first steps to take when filing for a divorce is to decide whether to file a sole or a joint application. If you’re submitting a sole application through the eCourts portal, one party will need to sign the affidavit and serve it on the other and a court date will be set. For a joint application, both parties need to sign the affidavit and submit it, along with supporting documents, via the eCourts portal.
There are certain procedures that must be followed, but joint applications are generally considered much quicker and less costly as both parties have agreed to proceed and just want to finalise the process as quickly as they can.
It’s might be a good idea to obtain legal assistance in filling in the forms correctly and submitting the correct documents to avoid any unnecessary hitches and delays. However, the Family Court website can provide a lot of guidance for those who wish to process the divorce themselves.
Consider Living Arrangements
Probably the most stressful part in many separations is working out ongoing living arrangements for the parties and their children. In many cases, separating couples cannot afford to live in two separate homes and can live “separately under the one roof” for a time. There are criteria that must be met to prove such a separation.
Other options include one party remaining in the family home while the other relocates or the home is sold and both parties relocate. This, of course, depends entirely on the financial circumstances of each couple and only they can make that decision.
Get Your Paperwork In Order
Preparing and filing for divorce, sorting out your financial affairs and ongoing arrangements for the kids requires significant paperwork. There is no getting away from that. The sooner you start getting the paperwork in order, the better.
Make hard and electronic copies of all the documents you may need including all documents of financial, property and legal nature. Bank accounts, share certificates, title deeds, mortgage statement, loans, debts, salary slips of both parties, insurance policies, tax returns, wills and superannuation statements as well as personal documents like passports, birth and marriage certificates, etc.
Prioritise Your Children
Parents are the most important part of most children’s lives so, when they separate, it can be devastating for them. And there are things that you both can do to help minimise their level of anxiety.
Don’t put them in the middle by asking them to take sides or make decisions you should be making with your ex. Do not discuss financial issues with them. Try to keep conversations age-related and never argue with or disparage your ex-spouse in their presence.
You will have many difficult decisions to make during the divorce process but prioritising your children and making decisions that will be best for them will make those decisions much easier. Strive to make this huge transition in their lives as painless as possible.
Consider How to Split Assets
The splitting of assets is often the most stressful part of separation.
Australian family law has for many years applied a no-fault rule, which means that neither party can be held at fault for the breakdown of the marriage and the way assets are split must always be fair and equitable to both parties.
Many divorces in Australia are settled through family mediation, which is mandatory before commencing proceedings in the Family Court where there are children involved.
Family mediators are skilled and experienced, informing both parties of their legal rights and obligations, thereby avoiding much unnecessary conflict. By keeping emotions to a minimum, they enable both parties to divide their assets and negotiate a settlement that is practical for their own unique set of circumstances. Reaching an amicable agreement paves the way for a more cordial post-divorce relationship for the whole family.
Mediation is also the quickest, least stressful and most cost-effective way of divorcing in Australia.
Ready to start family mediation to finalise your divorce? Get in touch with Ian Shann today and find out how he can help you move on.