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Getting divorced or separating

How to sort out your finances when you break up

Page reading time: 2 minutes

The end of a relationship is never easy, but there are steps you can take to help things run more smoothly.

If you're in crisis or struggling to make ends meet, see urgent help with money. You can get help with food, housing and bills, as well as emotional support.

First steps when you separate

A good first step is to try to agree on practical matters, even if it's just for the short term. Together, decide:

Organise your bills and paperwork

When you share your life with someone, you also share your finances. To understand what you own together, start by gathering and sorting all your documents.

This includes personal and financial documents such as your marriage certificate and bank account statements.

This will also help later down the track when you're working out how to deal with any property and other assets.

Update your accounts

Once you’ve gathered all your shared financial documents, start separating your money. This may also help to avoid any extra debt.

Open a bank account in your name only and have your pay or Centrelink benefits paid into this account. Think about closing joint accounts or credit cards, and updating bills and insurance policies.

Divide your property and assets

Dividing your property and assets when you're separating can be complicated. Work together to agree to who gets what. This can save you the time, money and effort needed to go through the court system.

Do a financial stocktake

List and value your assets. Include your home, car, furniture, super, investments and joint debts.

Get legal advice

A family lawyer can help you with the separation process. They can help you make a legal settlement so that you don't have to go to court.

You may also be able to get free legal advice. This can help you with decisions about your assets, debts, children and housing.

If you leave, you don't lose your right to a share of the house or other property. Victoria Legal Aid has information on your legal rights for dividing property in Australia.

Property and money - settling your finances

Settling your finances when you're splitting up.

Decide how to care for your children

If you have children together, you'll need to agree on their care and who pays for what.

Services Australia has information on financial assistance available to parents, including:

Family Relationships Online also has information about the services available for separated families.

Manage your new financial situation

The next step is to work out how to manage your new financial situation.

Do a budget

Your income and expenses are likely to change when your relationship ends. To get a clear picture of where your money comes from and where it goes, do a budget.

Get some help with your finances

If you're struggling to manage your financial situation, a financial counsellor can help. They can help you to review your budget and debts and to find ways to improve your situation.