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:
- who will stay in the house and where the other person will live
- if you need to change the way you're paying bills, debts, rent or mortgage
- what to do with any joint bank accounts
- if you have children, where they'll live and how they'll be financially supported
Use our divorce and separation financial checklist
Our checklist covers the key steps to take when your relationship breaks down.
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.
Create a list of all of your assets and liabilities. This will help you understand your current financial position.
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.
Keep track of your income and expenses to make sure you have everything covered.
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.