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How To Save Your Emotions, Relationships and Finances During a Divorce

We step into marriage hoping for it to last forever but more than 33 percent of marriages in Australia end in divorce. The entire process of divorce is long and tiring. So taking steps to make the divorce amicable for both parties will save your emotions, relationships and finances.

If you are someone struggling through a divorce and wondering what life will look like for you after it is finalised, you have come to the right place. Even if you aren't married or planning to separate from your partner, it is a good idea to know your rights, and educate yourself about the process of divorce proceedings.

In this article, we will guide you through some of the divorce laws in Australia. We will discuss how to prepared for the divorce process, the distribution of your assets and the things you need to think about after your divorce has been finalised.

How is divorce different from separation?

Divorce means legally separating from your spouse. It often includes the division of assets such as money and property and deciding the custody of your children if you have any. It can also include alimony and child support payments as well as visitation rights with children.

A mother and daugther happily biking

On the other hand, separating from your spouse means you will need to discuss all the things you would during a divorce, without the intervention of the court. You can ask a third person or a family friend to step in and mediate between you and your spouse if you are having any problems working things out.

Some people choose legal separation over divorce due to religious values. Others choose to avoid completely dissolving their marriage because of insurance reasons or due to the tax benefits they get.

How does divorce work and how to be prepared for the divorce process?

In 1975, Australian law established what is called the "no-fault divorce". The only ground for divorce needed by law is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. According to this law, the couple is not asked to present a valid reason to court for the ending of the marriage. The only thing considered by the court is the separation of the couple for not less than 12 months and the reasonable likelihood of the parties never getting back together.

The Australian law demands that no reconciliation must occur after filing for divorce for 12 months or more. The separation operates as a prerequisite for divorce and no divorce must be considered if the requirements surrounding separation have not been met. So what are these rules around separation? Let us have a look.

What are the rules around separation?

Separation starts the day a married couple stops living together as a couple. This can either mean living in different homes or living in the same one as a separated couple. You and your spouse can be separated while living under the same roof. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

    • You have to prove with your actions that you are separated.
    • Sleeping in different rooms.
    • Ceasing all sexual activities.
    • Separate bank accounts.
    • Separate cooking and eating.
    • Vocalising to your colleagues and friend groups that you are separated.

Divorce is a tricky concept. On and off again relationships are very common between separating parties, and the Australian Act recognises this. If the parties are ‘separated’ but reconcile for three months or less and then separate again, the two periods of separation can be aggregated into one. For example, Peter and Mary separate for two months. They reconcile for three and then separate again for 10 months. The 12-month separation period has been satisfied within the entirety of the 15 months.

How will the assets be divided between the two parties?

The arrangements for parenting and property can be made outside of the divorce. The courts will intervene in the distribution of your assets, if you need them to. The courts will determine the finances, financial contribution of each party, the future needs, value of assets and in the case of children, what will work in the best interest of the kids. The decisions about the division of assets and custody issues can be done after the separation and almost up to a year after the divorce has been finalised.

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

Deciding whether you need to hire a divorce lawyer or not is an important question. The answer will determine how much extra the divorce will cost you. It is not an easy decision and usually depends on how amicable your divorce is. You will need to consider your particular situation before you can decide if you can forgo one. If you and your partner agree with the terms you have set for your divorce, it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer. You will have to discuss the division of property, child support, alimony, and the custody of underage children.

How much money does it cost?

The divorce process can be more expensive if you need to hire a lawyer. Money Magazine has stated that the average cost of a divorce in Australia is between $50,000 and $100,000. It can also take up to three years if it is going through court. That's a lot of money. So it is no wonder there is a twelve-month separation clause included in the divorce.

You may only be up for the court charges of around $1,000 plus the separation of your assets, if you and your partner can agree to divorce amicably.

How to go about an amicable divorce?

A divorce is an extremely difficult time for a couple. It forces you to rethink and re-evaluate every single aspect of your life. Divorces are notorious for getting ugly, messy, and contentious but it is important to retain a good relationship with your spouse especially if kids are involved.

It is often not easy to forget a marriage, as much as each of you may want to erase memories of your relationship. Divorce has the power to separate two people that have already grown apart. It is already a painful process and making the process amicable for your spouse and children will reap rewards in the future.

What about our mutual friends?

Friends, unlike assets, cannot be divided into two. If you and your spouse have mutual friends, it is up to you and your friends to decide how to make it work. If the friends were yours and you introduced them to your spouse, technically they are your friends. In any case, friends decide which part of the couple they want to side with. Studies show that females lose up to 40 percent of their friends after getting divorced.

How can a good relationship be maintained even when divorcing?

Maintaining a respectful relationship can go a long way, and everybody stands to benefit. Here are a few ways you can maintain an amicable divorce:

    • Mediation: Don't think of divorce as a battle. Consider divorce mediation, especially if there are assets and children involved. It can be extremely important for your emotional gratification, children's necessities, and spousal relationships.
    • Communication: Divorce can happen for a lot of reasons and often it is not under desirable circumstances. In cases like these, sitting down and talking to your spouse can be the last thing you want to do. But communication and cooperation can go a long way in making a divorce amicable.
    • Discussion: The best way for you to make important decisions is calmly and soundly. Getting prepared before discussion by writing down key points and using them as a guide will help keep emotions in check. Going to a psychologist can also help you to reach decisions about important things without any conflict.
A happy women shaking hands

Can you date another person while the divorce is going on?

There is no law that prohibits you from dating someone else while your divorce is being finalised. However, it is advisable to wait to date until after your divorce has finalised. A relationship can affect the legal proceedings and if you have moved in with your new partner, the court may decide that you need less financial assistance. The issue of parental custody may also be affected by your relationship.

What to think about after your divorce has been finalised?

1. Finding a new home

Filing for divorce means you have to justify 12 months of separation from your spouse. Your entire life is uprooted when you file for divorce and even more so after the divorce has been finalised. Your children, assets, money, and even the family pet is in danger of being taken away from you. But the one thing you often don’t consider parting from is your home.

In such cases, you are often left without a roof over your head with minimum options to choose from. If you need help in finding yourself a new home or renting one until you can buy one, here is an article that can choose the perfect one.

2. Filling a home with essentials

After securing a new home, the next step is building a life back up. Filling your home with items and redecorating may be the last thing you will want to do after being divorced. You may be filled with dread thinking about all the items you'll need... from cutlery to furniture, appliances, and décor. You can ask for help from your loved ones. And, you can read our great advice on furnishing your home from scratch.

3. Getting in shape

Focusing on your health and wellbeing is key when going through a divorce and beyond. With so much changing around you, healthy routines will keep consistency in your life.

Working out in a gym you are comfortable with, one that you like, and one that is close to your home is a great idea. It is a good way to focus on your health whilst giving you the opportunity to meet new people. We have our list of everything you need to know about gym memberships and ways to apply to gyms near you.

4. Romance scams to stay away from

If you are left in a vulnerable spot after a divorce, you may feel alone. It can be tempting to quickly move on by going either on a blind date or out with someone you met online. But staying cautious of such people and protecting yourself from further harm is also crucial. We have a comprehensive article on what to avoid when venturing into the world of online dating.

Final word

Divorce is a long process for everyone involved including the families. It is important to know as many details as you can about the laws concerning divorce, separation, and asset distribution in Australia. If you think you cannot deal with it yourself, there is always the option of hiring a lawyer to help you through the process. And after your divorce has finalised, feel free to seek help from family and friends in building a new life for yourself.

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