I’m getting separated – where do I start?
Your marriage is nearly over, or you’ve just left or kicked him out. So you’re getting separated – where do you start?
Your first priority should always be to make sure you are safe. If you’re not, go to the police, and get the support that you need.
Being separated also means having independent finances, so make sure you have your own bank account and your wages are being paid into that.
Neither of you should clean out any joint accounts and leave each other with nothing. If this does happen, the money will still be taken back into account later, and potentially so will the behaviour.
You do not need to get divorced straight away. If fact, you can’t get divorced until you’ve been separated for 12 months.
After being safe, your next priority will depend on whether you just need a financial settlement with your ex-partner, or whether you still have young children.
Trying to come to an agreement about everything should always be the first step. But it’s hard to come to an agreement when you don’t know what your rights are.
Here are some videos to start learning your rights.
You may also want an initial, one-off appointment for advice from a lawyer. There should be no ongoing obligation.
If you have children your next step is to contact a Family Dispute Resolution centre to have a mediation. Quite often, parents reach an agreement this way, and then they need to put that agreement into an enforceable format, such as Consent Orders (which a lawyer can help you with).
If you cannot come to an agreement through mediation with the Family Dispute Resolution centre, then you will be given a certificate to confirm that you have tried. Without this certificate, you cannot make an application to Court.
Court should be your last option, but sometimes it is necessary to force the other party to negotiate, or to force the other party to give you full disclosure of all their financial affairs. Even if you end up in Court, the majority of matters settle without a trial. But the road in Court can still be long and expensive.
There are also other avenues to formalise an agreement that you and your ex-partner reach, such as a Binding Financial Agreement.
Or there are also other ways to try to reach an agreement, if the Family Dispute Resolution centre doesn’t work, such as a Divorce Coach.
Utilise whatever resources you can that are suitable for your situation.