Divorces are almost never easy. They’re complicated, stressful, and emotionally draining period experiences, especially when they involve custody issues. But by ensuring you’re fully informed about your rights so you understand what to expect during the divorce process will make it easier to get through this difficult time. So with that in mind, here’s our step-by-step guide with practical tips to help you prepare for divorce.

Get legal advice

Unfortunately, the most common mistake people make is waiting too long before speaking with a family law property settlement expert when going through separation or divorce. So no matter how complicated or amicable things seem to be, make an appointment with a family law specialist as soon as possible after separating. In fact, it’s preferable to seek legal advice before deciding to split.

An experienced family lawyer will explain your options and legal rights while offering you guidance throughout the separation and divorce proceedings. This is particularly important if your ex-spouse is fighting the divorce, isn’t being agreeable, or generally making things unnecessarily difficult. By advocating for you during court proceedings and ensuring you’re treated fairly, your lawyer helps you achieve a favourable outcome.

Make separation arrangements

When a couple has decided to separate, living arrangements are one of the first things they will need to discuss. This means deciding where each separating spouse will live, as well as any children, other dependents from previous relationships, and even pets. This is typically the most critical, difficult, and emotional of all considerations when people are preparing for divorce.

Separating couples should attempt to put their differences aside and work together on this. Hopefully, a stable arrangement can be established so that each partner has regular access to their children. Parents need to be aware that refusal to give their former spouse access to their dependants without grounds will typically lengthen the divorce process, which also causes it to become much more difficult and expensive.

Gather important documentation

When preparing for divorce, all relevant legal documents must be available for both parties to access. The exact documents you’ll need will differ for each situation, but they will usually always include the marriage certificate, both passports, and any other personal identification. You may also need copies of documents like Wills, bank statements, asset titles, and prenuptial agreements.

Get photocopies of any documents which you’re authorised to access so you can put them somewhere safe until you’re able to provide them to your lawyer. If you’re unsure what documents you should collate or whether you have legal access to them, you should confirm this with your lawyer.

Review finances for property settlement

While a divorce is used to formally end a legal marriage, it is distinctly separate from property settlement after separation. Along with arrangements for children, discussions between separating couples regarding property and finances are often divisive and hostile matters. In many cases, coming to an amicable agreement regarding money is an impossibility. You should also be aware that the property settlement time limit for applications is within 12 months of the divorce finalisation date.

Understanding the current financial position of your relationship is extremely important, as the Courts will ultimately use this property pool during the settlement process. So you will need to do a comprehensive audit of both joint and individual finances, making copies of everything or writing detailed records. This means listing all major assets, bank balances, investment properties, personal incomes, and all other holdings, as well as all associated debts in both names or separately.

Keep communication open

For many separating couples, having a genuinely constructive and positive conversation with each other can seem almost impossible. But saying negative things about each other is such a common stereotype, but it’s never a good idea. Working together to keep communication lines to each other open and civil during the divorce and separation proceedings will ultimately reduce the costs for the both of you.

That means trying to avoid bad-mouthing your ex to your mutual friends, your family, or your children. It’s also very important that you don’t discuss details of the separation on social media or anywhere else in the public domain. If the Courts are made aware of any defamatory accusations or negative statements, they can negatively affect your divorce property settlement proceedings.

Focus on your future

The whole process of separating and divorcing can be difficult and emotionally exhausting. The good news is that by discussing your situation with the family law experts at AJB Stevens, we’ll help you understand everything better so you can start moving forward.

Just remember that your decisions during the divorce and property settlement process will have an impact on your future happiness, so try to avoid fighting and arguing with your ex. If you’re able to focus on your future rather than your past, this will be much easier to get through for everyone involved.