The end a relationship is always difficult. If you’re separating from your partner, you will need to make important decisions about legal, financial and/or parenting matters, during what is often a very emotionally stressful time. Taking the time to prepare yourself, and getting good legal advice as soon as possible, is the best way to approach a separation. Here are five things you should consider before separating.

1. What will your new living arrangements be?

Will you and your partner continue to live together while separated, or will one of you move out? If you have children, who will they live with? For many couples, the least disruptive solution is may be for the primary caregiver to remain in the family home with the children. If you and your partner lease your home and you are going to move out, make sure you take your name off your rental lease and any utility accounts, otherwise you may be held liable for payments after you’ve moved out.

2. How will you finance your separation?

Take stock of your current income and expenses – can you afford to split your household in two? This may include rent or mortgage repayments, utilities, moving-in costs, plus two sets of furniture, kitchen appliances, etc. If this is not possible for you financially, do you have friends or relatives who you could stay with as a temporary solution? If you and your partner share a vehicle, you may also need to look into how you will fund a second car.

3. How will your children be affected?

There are both emotional and practical considerations here. Separating a family is often upsetting for kids, so think about how you will break the news to your children and what you can do to minimise the emotional stress for them. You should also consider how your children’s lifestyle might be affected due to financial or household changes that arise from the separation. Will they need to stop doing fee-based activities such as sports or music lessons? Will they be able to continue going to the same school? It’s important to make sure you and your partner can still work together in the best interests of your children, even if you are separating.

4. Get copies of your financial documents

Make sure you know where you stand in terms of your financial assets and commitments. Get copies of you and your partner’s marriage certificate, tax returns, bank statements, mortgage statements, term deposits and credit card statements.

5. Obtain legal advice as soon as possible

Separating from a partner is a complicated process, so it’s important to get legal advice as early as possible – preferably before you even officially separate. You may need to get a new will, change your power of attorney, divide your property and assets, or make crucial decisions regarding the living arrangements for your children. Not having the right legal advice could cost you thousands of dollars or stop you from achieving the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Paterson & Dowding has a dedicated team of family lawyers and divorce lawyers in Perth. With over 40 years’ experience, Paterson & Dowding can provide practical legal advice on separation and divorce, family dispute resolution, parenting matters and more. To find out more about what you should consider before separating, call Paterson & Dowding on 08 9226 3300 or visit


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