1. Gathering basic information
You are going to need to know details about your relationship’s financial set-up as well as other basic information such as dates regarding the relationship, where documents are kept, and whose name is on what assets, household bills, and other liabilities.
This can be overwhelming, particularly if you were not the one in the relationship who took care of all the finances. Importantly, you are entitled to know all the details of your partner’s financial portfolio, even if the asset, bank account or the like is not in your name.
Start to gather the information that you have at your fingertips, such as your own documents in your name or joint names, tax returns, payslips, bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, superannuation statements, your marriage certificate, your and your children’s birth certificates, car registrations, etc. You may not have these documents, but you just need to ring the tax office, superannuation fund, or bank and ask them to send copies. It’s extremely important to organise all your financial documents during your separation and divorce. For example, think about keeping separate files for each separate bank account. When you begin the property division process, you and your ex-partner will need to exchange a great deal of financial documentation — if you are organised, that process will not be so overwhelming.
As soon as any divorce-related correspondence begins, invest in some folders, a hole punch, and some dividers so that you can keep everything in one place and in order.
2. Knowing your marital financial situation
One of the main issues (other than parenting) that couples battle over in separation and divorce is money. It is so important it is to be aware of your shared financial picture during the divorce process (that is, you and your spouse’s finances). Clever individuals will not bury their heads in the sand but rather educate themselves about their marital finances.
If you have an accountant, make an appointment with them so that you can gain a full understanding of your financial circumstances. If you have joint accounts, your own accounts or superannuation but don’t know what funds are in them, phone the bank or the superfund and get the statements.
If there is a possibility of refinancing your home in your own name, go to your mortgage broker and get advice about this possibility so you can work out how much you will need to borrow or what you may need to put in place before you can borrow.
If you are educated about your personal finances, you are better positioned to figure out a budget and create a plan for your financial future.
If you have been in a relationship where there has been financial control and secrecy about your financial situation, you may not know anything at all, and you may not have any opportunity to find anything out. If you believe that you or your ex-partner have assets, but you are unaware of any details, you should seek legal advice.
If you do not know any details about your finances, there are many ways of finding them out, and that is where a skilled family lawyer can assist you. If this is the case for you, don’t beat yourself up that you do not know. This happens to many people in relationships, particularly when one partner is more interested in finance than the other or there is financial control over you. Everything can be discovered, and it is your right to know.
3. Be organised
As above, when you are organised, you will have a better understanding of what accounts you have and how much money you have to your name, along with any debts that are owed.
Gather all your documents and place them in date order; ensure that no dates are missing. Doing small things like this will help you save significant time and money on legal fees if you need to engage a lawyer.
A great place to start with your organisation is to get down the basic details in one place. In this blog, there is a free family law workbook which you can download; it will help you to become organised. To assist with your organisation, purchase one or two files and plenty of dividers. In your inbox, create some organisation files so that you can find emails easily.
Get in touch with our Gold Coast Family Lawyers or Brisbane Lawyers for more clarity when it comes to your family law issues.