Have you recently separated or are you thinking of separating? While there is no “right” way to do it, there are a few things you need to consider.
Where will you live? What contact will the children (and the pets) have with each parent? Having a plan for how life will be on the day-to-day basis is the first thing to consider.
Once you have a plan for the day-to-day arrangements, consider how you will fund this. Can you pay the mortgage and/ or rent, rates and insurance? What about groceries and other living costs? Work out what your income is on a month-to-month basis and what expenses need to be paid. Is there a deficit? If so, how can this be addressed? Are there costs that can be shared?
Make a list of all your assets, things like the house, cars, KiwiSaver accounts, and the balances of your bank accounts. Make a list of your liabilities. What debts exist and when do they need to be paid? Lawyers like to put together a snapshot of what assets and liabilities you have on the date of separation (the date on which you agreed to separate). This list should be supported by paperwork that verifies each amount (e.g. bank statements and valuations).
Your assets do not need to be divided straight away but we do recommend that you seek advice sooner rather than later so you know what effect a delay in dividing your assets might have. We always recommend that you keep track of what debts and expenses are paid as sometimes compensation can be sought for paying relationship debts and expenses after the date of separation. Create an excel spreadsheet.
Separating is an event that often triggers a long journey for each party. This journey is the start of a roller coaster ride. How long that roller coaster goes for depends on many things and is personal to each of you.
Get in touch with us early in the piece. We can provide you with some initial advice about the law, how it applies to you and help you put together practical and legal plans. We can let you know whether there are any steps you should take immediately or if dealing with things later and at your own pace is okay. As mentioned above, it is important you know what effect a delay in dividing your assets might have.
Also be aware of the “status quo”. Arrangements for children that appear to work can soon become the “status quo” which may be difficult to change if there is no agreement to the changes proposed. Additionally, if one party gets settled in the family home, it can be difficult to move property matters forward if there is no agreement.
Do accept that communication at the outset of a separation may be difficult. Try very hard not to do anything or say anything that will make it harder. This means you may have to bite your tongue from time to time and be the “bigger person”. Listen, talk, consider, reflect, then hopefully together you can resolve any issue in a sensible way.
Choose your relationship property lawyer carefully. Experience and specialisation is key. Get good practical legal advice that helps to constructively navigate the pit falls that besiege others.
Understand the legal position and work with your lawyer and your ex and their lawyer to resolve matters in a cost effective and efficient way.
Be realistic, be practical, be sensible in your communications and interactions. Don’t imagine you can keep living in a big house if you cannot service the mortgage. Don’t imagine you should have week-about care of your children when you work to 7 pm each night.
If you would like to discuss your separation with our relationship property team do not hesitate to contact Emily Flaszynski (email@example.com), Angela Dunbar (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rachel van Eekelen (email@example.com) or Ruby Haddon (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 03 377 2900.