1. See an experienced family lawyer for an initial consultation (at least).  This way you can ask any immediate questions sooner rather than later and map out the best strategy for your situation moving forward.
  2. Where there are children of the relationship, find out about Family Dispute Resolution Services nearby.  They can help you sort living arrangements for the children if you are unable to agree with each other.
  3. Access services that will assist you deal with the emotions of separation and for the children with the impact of divorce.  This will save you legal costs of being involved in a highly conflictual and drawn out legal battle over ‘who gets what’ or ‘who will the children live with’.
  4. Gather important documents such as bank statements, tax returns, payslips, and superannuation member benefit statements.  If you have not been involved in handling the finances of the relationship, then this will help put you in the picture.  These documents will also be very useful to your lawyer.
  5. If finances are tight, notify the bank of your separation and ask if you can pay interest only on the mortgage until property matters have been sorted.
  6. If there is a concern that the other person will withdraw all of the money in the joint bank account or redraw facility, then again notify the bank and ask them to change the authorisation on the account so that both of your signatures are required.
  7. There is nothing at law that says one of you has to leave the family home (of course this may be appropriate or preferable).  If you do leave, then take with you those items of property as agreed that you wish to retain on settlement.  Remember, you do not lose any entitlement to share in the value of the family home if you leave.
  8. Notify Centrelink as soon as possible of the separation if you are in receipt of a Parenting Payment or other such benefit.
  9. Keep a diary of relevant events where there is a dispute about living arrangements for the children.
  10. Take time to make decisions.