Dealing with divorce

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11 June 2019

Couple having a coffee

Divorce is an extremely difficult decision for couples to make, and it can happen at any time of life. One in three marriages ends in divorce1 and once the choice has been made there is a web of commitments that needs to be disentangled – not only financial, but also property, investments, wills and insurance policies, while those couples with young children will need to take care of kids’ physical and emotional needs, as well as their own.

You may feel that there is so much to do that you don’t even know where to start, but you’re not alone. On the Holmes-Holmes-Rate Stress Scale, divorce is ranked as the second most traumatic event a person can go through2. So, to smooth the path a little, we’ve put together a checklist of the key things you might need to resolve.

Passport

If you’re changing your name, you will need to update your passport. Fortunately, if you have two or more years left on your Australian passport, you can get a replacement free of charge3.

Medicare

If you’re both on the same Medicare card, you may want to change that, as well as updating your name, and the bank account to which any rebates are paid.

Bank accounts and credit cards

Work out a plan to disentangle your bank accounts and credit cards. There will, in all likelihood, be some accounts to keep active in the short term – for example, those from which you pay your  mortgage payments or school fees. However, other day-to-day accounts and credit cards can be closed.

Workplace

If your salary is being paid into a joint account, you may want to update your details with your employer. It can also be helpful to notify your company’s human resources department, as they may be able to offer additional support, including the provision of mental health days and flexible working conditions.

Super beneficiaries

There’s a very good chance your former spouse is named as a beneficiary in your superannuation account. If so, you may want to change that.

Australian Tax Office

Update your details, including marital status, with the ATO.

Life insurance

If you have a joint Life insurance policy, you’ll need to review with your adviser, ensuring that you have the right level of coverage for your new circumstances. For example, if you have no dependants, you may no longer need to pay the premiums for a large lump sum upon death. 

Income Protection insurance

Your salary alone now needs to be able to cover all of your household bills, mortgage or rent payments, and all other outgoings. Review your Income Protection insurance to ensure you have the right level of cover.

Will

Your Will is another thing you’ll need to review, as it’s likely you and your former spouse will each be listed as each others’ beneficiaries. Review your Will with your solicitor and ensure you’re comfortable with the state of affairs.

Power of attorney

You and your former spouse may have power of attorney over the other. If so, this arrangement may need to be reviewed.

In addition, there are also a number of places you’ll need to remember to change your name and address. Use the institutions listed below as a guide to make sure you don’t forget anything.

Other government agencies

Australian Electoral Commission

Child Support

Australia Post

Centrelink

Car registration and driver’s licenses

Local council

Health and fitness

Health insurer

Dentist

GP and other medical professionals

Gym membership

Passwords

If you share online accounts or services, such as PayPal, Google Play and the App Store, you may want to disentangle these and update your passwords.

Utilities and subscriptions

Electricity provider

Gas provider

Water provider

Internet and phone provider

Pay TV (Foxtel, Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime)

Magazine and newspaper subscriptions

Organisation, arts and culture memberships

Finance

Bank

Mortgage provider

Financial adviser

Superannuation fund Insurance companies

Childcare

If you have children, you may want to establish a parenting plan, as well as notifying and creating provisions for school, preschool, day care and after school care, if applicable.

Remember that you’re not alone – there are agencies and services that can assist you, including Family Relationship Centres4, and it’s also advisable to seek legal advice.

References

  1. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3310.0
  2. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm
  3. https://www.passports.gov.au/passports-explained/how-apply/eligibility-citizenship-and-identity/travel-documents-issued-free
  4. https://www.relationships.org.au

 

These pages contain general information only and do not take into account your personal circumstances, objectives or needs. This information is provided in good faith and believed to be accurate at the time it was placed on the MLC Life Insurance website, however we make no representation or warranty as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of this information.

The information provided is not intended to constitute financial, legal or medical advice, or to substitute for the need to consult with your advisers or treating practitioners. Before acting on any information in these pages, you should consider whether it is right for you and consult with your financial, legal and/or medical advisers.

Any views or opinions expressed or referenced here (including in any video content) or in any webpages to which hyperlinks are provided do not represent the opinion of MLC Limited, unless we say otherwise. 

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