1: Seek out legal advice
The divorce or separation process can be confusing and emotionally draining, but it’s always best to seek legal advice before making any big decisions.
It’s important to remember that there are different laws for different situations—these take into account how long you’ve been married, whether you were in a de facto relationship, if you have children, or how long you’ve been separated.
Finding a lawyer you can trust is really important. They can help answer some of your big questions, and make you feel more confident about the process. If you can’t afford a lawyer, your local Legal Aid or Community Legal Centre could be able to help.
2: Review any joint finances
In the early days of divorce or separation, you may want to consider closing any joint bank accounts, cancelling any shared credit cards, or introducing a co-signing system should either of you need to withdraw money.
If you're going to head down this path, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your partner about splitting the utilities from your shared home, and negotiate a fair payment prior to one of you leaving.
Before you cancel anything, ask your bank for 13 months worth of statements. These will help you identify and change any direct debits you have set up. It’s a good idea to sort out your direct debits before closing off any cards.
3: Look into opening your own bank account
Financial independence could be your greatest reward during the divorce or separation process. Having your own bank account can open the doors to financial freedom, and make you feel in control again.
It might be a good idea to speak with your local branch about which NAB bank account is right for you. We’ll happily help you create realistic money goals with your new circumstances in mind.
4: Reconsider your accommodation
One option to keep in mind during the divorce or separation process is for one of you to move out, or seek temporary rental accommodation.
It might be a good idea to speak to your landlord about changing the lease (if renting) or your bank (if paying a mortgage) about the changes in your living arrangements. If you're struggling to make ends meet, we may be able to help you make your payments.
5: Notify work and schools
Going through a divorce or separation will sometimes mean changes to your normal routine. It’s a good idea to let your workplace know what’s going on, just in case you need to make a last-minute dash to appointments. If you have kids, talk to their school about possible changes to their routine as well.
6: Refresh your accounts and privacy
While a divorce or separation can be a difficult time, it’s also a great opportunity to create new accounts for yourself, and gain full control of your online affairs and finances. This could include email accounts, credit cards, store accounts, or online shopping points.
In order to protect your credit history, make sure you speak with you bank about how to avoid any penalties, before you take any action.
When you're switching accounts, consider changing any passwords or PIN’s you shared with your partner.
7: Gather relevant docs and take notes
Divorce and separation can sometimes involve a lot of red tape. Getting all your official documents together now will save time down the track.
These documents may include marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports, bank and super statements, insurance policies, tax returns, car registration papers and any business documents.
It’s also advisable to create a running list of any joint assets that will need to be divided during the separation. These could include superannuation, property, investments, jewellery, or artwork.
Keep notes of any conversations and actions to cover yourself. This might include the removal of furniture, important phone calls, selling of shared items, or moving money between accounts.
9: Create a new budget
With changes bound to occur to your work and finances, it’s a good idea to write out a new budget.
Your new budget should be based on your individual earnings, income, or savings. Don’t forget to include temporary child support, or other payments your partner might make during the divorce or separation process.
If you're creating a new budget, our online NAB budget planner can help you get on top of your new financial situation.
10: Make time for mindfulness
Regular sport, meditation, yoga, or a daily walk can help you stay calm and grounded. Mindfulness activities or apps are really useful for creating down time, and maintaining a positive outlook.