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Divorce and separation financial checklist

Practical steps to separate your finances

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Work through our checklist to organise your finances after a break-up.


Organise your bills and paperwork

You'll need personal and financial documents to separate your finances.

  • Collect important documents
    To understand what you own together, start by gathering and sorting all your documents. Include your:
    • marriage certificate
    • birth certificate
    • passport
    • bank and super statements
    • insurance policies (health, home and contents, car, income protection and life)
    • tax records (tax returns and tax file numbers)
    • car registration
    • bank account, credit card or store card statements
    • loan statements
    • utility bills (electricity, gas, water, phones and internet)
    • property documents (lease, deeds, mortgage documents)
    • superannuation account statements
    • investment statements (for example, managed funds, share dividends)
    • government benefit documents
  • Record the date you separated
    You need to have been separated for a year before you can apply for a divorce.
  • Create a family profile
    Put together notes for your lawyer about you, your ex and your family. Include full names, contact details, employers and salaries.
  • Store your documents safely
    Change the password on your email account. If you need a secure location for your mail, set up a PO Box.

Update your accounts, will and super

Once you have all your documents, start separating your money.

  • Open a separate bank account in your name (for your income).
  • Change your PIN and online banking passwords.
  • Close joint bank accounts.
  • Cancel joint credit cards.
  • Cancel any overdraw facilities on accounts.
  • Remove your name from agreements, loans and bills that aren't a joint responsibility.
  • Update all your insurance policies.
  • If you're renting, update your lease contract.
  • Update your super and make sure the payout goes to who you want.
  • Update your will and powers of attorney.

Get legal advice and help

Work out how you'll make mortgage repayments until

Get your own legal advice, even if you’re on good terms with your ex.

Sort out your mortgage

Work out how you'll make mortgage repayments until your property is settled.

  • Notify your lender
    Let your lender know that you've separated.
  • Cancel redraw
    Cancel your home loan redraw facility or ask the bank to get both signatures for a withdrawal.
  • Plan your repayments
    Work out a plan to cover mortgage repayments until you've finalised the property settlement.
  • Legal protection
    If your home is only in your ex's name, talk to your lawyer about whether you need to protect the property with a caveat.

Divide your property and assets

Work together to decide who gets what.

Manage your income and expenses

Separating can mean that your income changes considerably.

  • Do a budget
    Work out your income and expenses using our budget planner (include all debts you are responsible for).
  • Government payments
    Talk to Services Australia to find out whether you're entitled to government payments and services.
  • Spousal maintenance
    Ask your lawyer if your former partner should support you financially.
  • Get help with debts
    If you’re finding it hard to keep up with your loan repayments or bills, talk to a financial counsellor. It's free and confidential that can help you get your money back on track.

Decide how to care for your children

Work out care arrangements for your children.

  • Agree on how to pay for school expenses
    Work out how education costs will be divided.
  • Get advice on parenting arrangements
    Call the Family Relationship Advice line on 1800 050 321 for advice on parenting arrangements and referrals to local services.
  • Make a parenting plan
    Contact a Family Dispute Resolution provider to work out a parenting plan.
  • Notify your school
    Update your contact details and give the school a copy of any parenting agreement or order.
  • Child support
    Contact Services Australia to find out about child support or speak to your lawyer about a private child support agreement.
  • Government payments
    Visit the Services Australia website to find out if you’re eligible for government payments for separated parents.

Domestic violence and financial abuse

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or financial abuse.

  • Get help
    If you or your children are feeling unsafe, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 737) 24 hours a day. You'll speak to a domestic violence councilor from the national sexual assault and domestic violence counselling service.
  • Protect yourself
    Call 000 if you are in danger or need help with a protection order like an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).