Planning for a divorce can be a tiring and emotionally exhausting process, mainly because the Family Law Act requires a married couple to have been separated for at least 12 months to qualify for a divorce. Therefore, once you have decided to separate, it's essential to protect your interests throughout this period. With this in mind, here are three steps to take when preparing for separation and divorce.

Communicate with caution

Divorce includes various issues such as property division, child custody, spousal support and much more. Amidst the pain, anger, shock and emotional distress, it's common for people to make verbal agreements and promises and sign documents that may hurt their interests. For example, one may promise their ex-partner full custody of the children.

Verbal and written agreements can be legally binding in court. Therefore, avoid making promises or signing agreements without consulting your divorce attorney. Do not send text and voice messages, emails or social media messages making promises to the other party. Let your lawyer handle all divorce-related correspondences between you and your ex-partner.

Sort out living arrangements

There are two main reasons you need to sort out your living arrangements during separation and divorce. First, if there is a history of violence from your partner, you should prioritise your safety. Moving out or asking your partner to move out is the best way to ensure your safety as you go through the divorce process. If you have kids, consider their needs and interests when deciding which party should move out of the family home.

Second, the law requires couples to have been separated for 12 months before getting a divorce. Depending on the relationship between you and your partner, you can separate under the same roof or live in different homes. You have to determine the start of your separation and provide proof, especially when living under the same roof. Below are some factors that prove separation under one roof:

  • Sleeping in separate rooms
  • Absence of a sexual relationship
  • Separation of finances

You can also notify a relevant government agency of the separation and sign a separation agreement. 

Gather important records

When preparing for separation and divorce, it's essential to gather all records that will help speed up the process. These records can also act as proof in matters of property division, child custody and spousal support. They include your prenuptial agreement, proof of income, financial statements, mortgage documents, insurance policies, tax returns and car documents. Provide both enforceable and non-enforceable agreements that may favour your interest during the divorce negotiations.

Getting a divorce can be an overwhelming experience, and it's crucial to engage a third party whose sole priority is to look out for your interests. Contact a divorce lawyer immediately after you decide to separate from your spouse.