The holidays can sometimes be a bit of a ‘pressure cooker’ for spouses and families especially where there may have already been tension or pre-existing thoughts of separation.
If you have separated with your spouse over the holiday period, which may have occurred when most family law firms were closed, what can you do yourself and what should you do next?
If you ever have immediate concerns for your safety or the safety of your children, please contact the Queensland Police Service on 000. If safety isn’t an immediate concern, there is no requirement for either person to move out of the shared family home immediately. Spouses can continue to live separately under the same roof, provided it is safe to do so and living under the same roof is not causing any further animosity between spouses. We do not recommend continuing to live under the same roof if it is causing yourself or your children unnecessary stress and anxiety.
If you and/or your spouse do choose to live separately and you have children, your first step should be sorting out the immediate care arrangements for the children. These arrangements may only be for an interim period but should be agreed and put in place first so that your children are spending time with both parents. Any changes and formalisation of the children’s arrangements can be discussed with your family lawyer when an appointment is scheduled.
It is important to be aware that you and your former spouse have an obligation to ensure your children have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. In doing so, parents also have an obligation to ensure that children are protected from physical or psychological harm due to being exposed to abuse, neglect, or family violence while they are living or spending time with the other parent.
If you have concerns about your child being at risk of harm with the other parent, we recommend that you contact our office and make an appointment to see one of our experienced Brisbane family lawyers to discuss your concerns and ways that any risks can be minimised and/or managed. We also recommend keeping a diary or journal to keep track of important dates and events. This assists you being able to recall important events and dates when you do speak to a family lawyer and assists your family lawyer in understanding the timeline of events of what has occurred.
We understand that when separation occurs, you may want to formalise and separate all of your assets and liabilities immediately. If you are comfortable doing so and if it is productive, you may wish to have informal discussions with your spouse in relation to what you both want to retain. Some things to consider when having any informal discussions with your spouse are:
- What are both of your assets, liabilities and superannuation interests including their current value
- What do you each want to retain?
- Does either spouse want to retain the family home?
- Do either of you have the capacity to refinance the current mortgage and if required, refinance a higher amount to pay out your spouse?
- If neither of you wish to retain the family home or do not have the capacity to do so, is the property required to be sold?
- If the property is required to be sold, when will the property be listed for sale and who will list the property for sale?
- Does there need to be a superannuation split?
You may also wish to start compiling relevant financial documentation which your family lawyer will likely request when you meet with them. This includes (but is not limited to):
- A list of your assets, liabilities and superannuation including each items current value
- Bank account statements including home loan and credit card statements for all bank accounts for at least a 12-month period
- Tax returns for the previous 4 years
- A current superannuation statement for all superannuation interests
- Financial Statements for the past 4 years for any companies and trusts
- Redbook valuations for all vehicles
These are some early steps that you can take that will make the process easier when it comes time to meet with your family lawyer.
For assistance navigating your property and parenting matters, you can contact our office on (07) 3532 3826 or email@example.com to arrange an in-person or video-conference fixed fee initial consultation.