Before you can get a divorce you need to have been separated for 12 months. Family lawyers will tell you that this does not have to be in different accommodation; you can be separated while still living in the same home if moving would cause financial difficulties. However, one way to prove to the court that you are separated is to have separate bank accounts.
So on the day you separate, you should set up an account in a bank or other financial institution in your name only. Even if you have no money, you can often simply set up the account with a zero deposit or a low deposit of one dollar. After that, if you are on a government pension or benefit, you can to go to Centrelink and have them pay the money into your new account.
While you are there, ask whether you can also have the child benefit payment redirected into your account if you are the main carer for your children. You will need to have at least some money in order to apply for the divorce because there is a fee involved. This can be reduced if you are on a government benefit or have financial hardship, but if you’ve set the account up on the day you separate or shortly after, you’ll have the chance to save some money in readiness.
After the divorce is final you will also need to apply for a property settlement and this will be decided by the court if you and your ex cannot agree on a fair division. Don’t make the mistake of allowing your ex to dictate the terms of the division because they may not be fair, especially if much cash or property is involved.
While you may feel at this point that you don’t care and just want to get it all over with, it is important to consider the future of your children as well as your own. Their care and education will require financial input for many years and it is the duty of your ex to help provide for them both now and into the future. This decision that will affect their future to a great degree, so it is an important one.
The court will decide what they consider to be fair taking many factors into consideration. If there are few assets, the decision will be simple, but if there are many it will be more complex. However, even the debts are divided up equally between the two, which is why the family home often has to be sold in cases of divorce. It is much more difficult to pay it off with only one income.
Many people in a stressed situation don’t care about finances, but you need at least some money to survive.