Getting divorced? Here is a practical guide

Getting divorced Here is a practical guide
Photo: Freeograph, BS

First things first. Although divorce can be a painful process, it doesn’t have to be the end of your world.

Indeed, while divorce may spell the end of one part of your life, it also heralds the beginning of a new one and thinking this way can help you move forward with a more positive mind-set.

Whilst the divorce process can be difficult and stressful, the process can be made a little easier by heading some useful advice and knowing some important facts.

The divorce process

Put simply, divorce generally follows a 4-step process:

  1. Separation
  2. Your application and filing
  3. Your hearing
  4. Your outcome

Separation:

Couples need to be separated for at least 12 months before they can file for divorce. This helps demonstrate to the court that the marriage is over and no likelihood of getting back together.  If you’ve been married less than 2 years, the courts may require you to consider counselling first.

Application preparation:

You’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate, your passport and a divorce application form. There are two types of applications, sole and joint. If you create a sole application you’ll need to serve your spouse.

The hearing:

Attendance is only required when;

It’s a sole application and there are children under the age of 18.

More information is required such as an affidavit.

The outcome:

Whilst the old adage is that ‘you’re entitled to half’ the reality is that very few divorce settlements are split 50-50. Everyone’s circumstances, and entitlements, are unique. We encourage anyone to seek independent, professional legal advice.

Legal advice

Hae-Jung Kim from K&T Legal adds “Friends and family are great for support however, even though they may have been through the process themselves their circumstances are never identical to yours and legislation and procedures change all the time. Seek advice from a legal representative even if it is a one off consultation”

Financial settlement

Seeking assistance from a family lawyer can be important when attempting to resolve a financial settlement. Contributions, future needs, welfare and age of the children, ability to generate an income after divorce and many other factors are taken into consideration.

Here’s our checklist of documents and information you’ll need to gather:

  • Income
  • Assets (property, investments, businesses)
  • Bills / insurance
  • Tuition fees (current and future)
  • Mortgage / car finance payments
  • Superannuation
  • A list of the direct financial contributions each party has made to the relationship such as income earned as well as indirect contributions such as inheritance, the homemaker role and caring for children.

If you’re not used to managing your finances or paperwork, now’s the time. And now is not the time to go on a spending spree. The divorce process can be gruelling and costly and it’s better to hold money in reserve for unexpected expenses in this period.

The children

Of course, many children will feel their entire world is changing and will be anxious about what will happen next. As most family lawyers will advise, your role as a parent should never change, even on separation.

When telling your children, it’s important that it’s done in a way that minimises their stress. General well-regarded measures include planning exactly what you want to say, making sure the children know they are not the cause and ensuring the children understand they do not need to choose sides or pick a favourite.

The stress of separation can have consequences at school or with other children so parents should be aware of, and respond to, any changes in behaviour. This article has some useful tips on how to handle divorce cordially for the sake of your kids.

“If a dispute arises between parents regarding the custody or financial support of a child, the Child Support Agency of Australia and an experienced family lawyer can help you reach a resolution through mediation or court if necessary.” – Clayton Long

Summary

Getting divorced is likely going to be one of the most stressful, costly & upsetting periods of your life. It can be made somewhat easier however with sound legal advice, support from loved ones and a clear and organised approach.