Separating from your partner – a 7 step guide

The end of a relationship is usually a traumatic and stressful experience. When separating, couples not only need to have arrangements in place for the care of their children but also have to think about separating their assets and property.

No matter how straightforward the process may seem to be, separation is life changing and challenging. We understand how difficult it is to accept and deal with such a big change so here are 7 initial steps for you to consider and help you reorganise your life.

1) Be kind to yourself and your children. You are not alone. Ask for help if you need to. Your trusted friends and family may be able to help you work through your feelings during this difficult time. There are also lots of places where you can go for help, such as counselling services and legal services.

It is extremely important that you communicate with your children honestly. Answer their questions openly without denigrating your estranged partner. Remind them that they are loved by both parents and that the separation is for the adults to work out.

Avoid any type of conflict in front of your children as separation can be an especially difficult time in their lives. Where appropriate, involve your children in the decisions that will affect them because at the end of the day, you and your children will have to adjust to a new life.

2) Safeguard Your Money. Consider the access you both have to joint bank accounts. It is a priority to make sure that your estranged partner cannot empty the account leaving you with no funds. It may be a good idea to create another account so your income can be redirected to an account that only you have access to.

Until such time as your property settlement is finalised, you must protect yourself as much as you are able to, by maintaining access to funds and ensuring that your estranged partner does not have access to it. 

3) Try to communicate with your estranged partner. You and your estranged partner will have to have discussions in relation to practical issues involving your children, your finances, your debts and assets.

Communication is the key to resolving these practical issues. You will have to ensure that proper arrangements are in place for the care of your children and that each of you is financially supported at least until your property settlement is finalised.

If you are having difficulty communicating, we suggest you seek help from a mediator, counsellor, or a psychologist to help you deal with emotional conflict. Your approach to solving any conflict will impact greatly on the results you achieve so it is important that you choose the most appropriate way to communicate with your estranged partner.

4) Gather your financial information. This is a time where you will have to adjust to change in your income. If you are not used to managing your finances, it is important that you understand where the money is coming from and where the money is going.

A good start is to collect the key financial documents which will assist in determining where you stand financially. Collect documents such as bank statements, tax returns, pay slips, superannuation statement, investment documents, insurance policies, utility bills, mortgage and credit card details, business documents and any other document which reflects you and your estranged partner’s financial position. 

5) Do a financial stock take. The first step when going through property settlement is to identify the assets, liabilities, financial resources and superannuation of each party.

Make a list of all the assets that are in your name, in your estranged partner’s name, joint names, or that are held with a third party, along with their estimated values.

You should also list all liabilities, financial resources and superannuation. This way, you will be able to identify the assets available for division between the two of you.

6) Record your main points. Note the important dates and facts of your relationship. It may be useful to make a timeline with important dates and history of the relationship. Include information such as the date of marriage, date you started living together, date of separation, children’s dates of birth, date you bought your first home etc. When writing down the history of your relationship think about the day-to-day tasks that you each performed over the years as non-financial contributions are also a factor that is taken into consideration for property settlement.

7) Seek legal advice. Empower yourself with information as to where you stand legally. At Cornerstone Law Offices, our lawyers will provide you with qualified advice so that you can make an informed decision and move on with your lives.

We understand that separation can be a very stressful time for you and your loved ones. Our lawyers will hold your hand and help you, while looking after your best interests at every stage of the process.


→ For a confidential, free chat about separation, or any other family law matters, please call us at:

1300 267 637 for Brisbane, Logan and Ipswich

(07) 5538 9119 for Gold Coast office

For more information send an email to

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