“I’m thinking of separating from my partner – what should I do first, legally?”

You may be surprised that when faced with the above question, Anton Richardson from Richardson Murray Law in Broadbeach always asks their client whether they have been to relationship counselling. 

“A relationship counsellor or psychologist is not always about reconciliation, but can also assist parties in separating responsibly,” says Anton. “This is particularly important when there are children involved. 

“If reconciliation is not on the cards, then perhaps a healthy discussion can be held regarding how parties are going to separate and avoid conflict. Sheltering the children from psychological or emotional harm by being exposed to conflict should be of paramount consideration.”

Stephanie Murray, also of Richardson Murray Law, explains that early legal advice can be very helpful when considering separation.

“Make sure to engage an experienced family lawyer, preferably one who practices exclusively in family law,” says Stephanie. “Knowing and understanding the process and procedure involved in a legal separation is imperative. If you know your rights and entitlements, it will assist you in any discussions that you may have with your spouse partner.” 

A family lawyer can guide you should you wish to make a proposal – alternatively, if you are considering a proposal that has been made by your partner, they can inform you as to whether what is being offered is fair or reasonable. 

“When going to see your lawyer, you will get the most out of your first appointment if you are organised,” says Stephanie. “If you are seeking advice regarding parenting matters, then write down what parenting arrangement you consider to be in your children’s best interest and why.” 

If you have any concerns, make a list and give examples of incidents which have caused you to hold the concern. If you have any evidence, such as text messages or photographs, make sure to print them or save them somewhere safe where they will not be lost or deleted. 

If you are seeking advice regarding financial matters, Anton says you should also make a list of your current assets and liabilities. Write out a brief chronology of the relationship history in bullet point format, addressing when the relationship started who had what assets or liabilities, what were your respective roles during the relationship, were there any lump sum contributions made by either of you or your family or friends, such as gifts or inheritances or compensation payments. 

“It is sometimes a good idea to start collating the financial documents which can evidence what the current bank balances are, or what assets are owned and who made what contributions,” says Anton. “It is recommended to speak to your lawyer before withdrawing money or selling or disposing of assets. Do not draw money from accounts which you are not legally entitled to draw from – for example, a company account to which you are not entitled. 

“Ask your lawyer to advise you as to your options and to recommend the best way to protect assets.”

Finally, don’t be tempted to talk to anyone with an ear. 

“Separation is an emotional event – if it can be done politely and considerately, it will be easier on all involved,” says Stephanie. “Consider sharing your emotions with a qualified psychologist rather than friends, avoid social media and do not vent via inappropriate social media posts, which can potentially be used as evidence in future court proceedings.”

Anton also advises you to think about changing your personal passwords, including to cloud storage, which can sometimes be accessed via multiple devices in a household.

A boutique family law firm, Richardson Murray will offer you a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold. Their lawyers are caring and go further for their clients – they offer a free initial consultation, during which they can share with you their own experience and help you on your path. 

You can book you free initial consultation here: www.richardson-murray.law



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