With all the emotions swirling around being newly separated it can be hard to think beyond the immediate practicalities of living arrangements, child care arrangements and just keeping yourself together.
These few tips should help you through those early stages of getting back on track to a new normal.
Take good care of yourself: Being newly separated is like a death in the family. You have permission to grieve. Inevitably, there is a sense of loss grief or depression. Talk to your GP about your changed situation. Your GP will be able to refer you to an appropriate psychologist or counsellor under the mental health care plans available through Medicare. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, take regular exercise and minimise your alcohol intake. The answer to adjusting to being newly separated is never at the bottom of a bottle.
Financial matters. Close all joint accounts, including joint credit card accounts as soon as is practical. When a joint account is used to pay mortgage and other recurring joint expenses, contribute your share to the joint account until you sort out who going to pay for what. Open your own bank account and direct your salary there. Don’t cause unnecessary friction by emptying the joint bank account or any other joint accounts. Communicate with your former partner about any major withdrawals.
- Change all your passwords for all your personal online account access. Get a new email address and use a password you have never used during the relationship. Opening a new email account will maintain your privacy.
- Take note of the separation date and put the date in your phone. This is likely to become important later. Find your Certificate of Marriage and any other paperwork relating to property, share portfolios, investments, superannuation statements and taxation records. Take copies of these documents. Check your insurance policies and superannuation accounts. Consider whether you need to change the beneficiaries of these accounts.
- Review your Will and revoke any existing Powers of Attorney and appoint a fresh Power-Of-Attorney. You should also review your Advanced Health Directives.
- Using a post office box for a while until you settle on a more permanent address can help if you have moved. You may need to update your driver’s licence, Medicare, CentreLink and banking records.
Parenting issues help the children by making the school aware of the change in the family situation. Update the school with any changed contact details. Join with the other parent about engaging the children with the school Counsellor.
Separation is a unique situation for you and your family, but not unique for the school. Engaging with the school will help your children navigate their way through a changed family arrangement and minimise any impact on their education. Remember too, that your relationship with the other parent is not the children’s relationship with the other parent. Denigrating the other parent hurts the children. Keep things as normal as possible for them.
This article is not intended to contain legal advice. Always seek legal advice applicable to your particular situation. At Hadley Family Law, we are sensitive to the many issues facing the newly separated. We strive to assist our clients maintain dignity and achieve a civilised separation.