14 Dos and Don’ts when Separating

1. Do look after yourself.

Separation is hard. Hard on you, and hard on your family and loved ones. Make sure you have support from family and friends. We recommend our clients get personal counselling support from Centacare, Queensland’s premier counselling and support service.

2. Don’t make rash/emotional decisions.

Separation is a major life event. You will most likely go through a roller coaster of emotions and stages of grief. Often the best thing to do initially after separation is to take time out to smell the roses, let the dust settle, find your equilibrium, and seek counselling from Centacare. If you let your emotions take control, you will most likely make the wrong decisions. You need to keep your emotions in check.

3. Do get legal advice.

It’s important that you talk to us early so that you know where you stand, and can make decisions in the knowledge of how the Family Law works. Better to be operating in the light of knowledge, rather than fumbling around in the dark.

4. Do rely on friends for support, but not legal advice.

Friends and Family have their role – to provide you with support in challenging times. However well-meaning they are they aren’t lawyers, and even when they’ve been involved in a matrimonial situation themselves, every case has its individual features, and what happened to them may not apply to you.

5. Don’t believe everything you are told by your friends and loved ones.

Whilst your friends and family are well intended, it is important to remember that family law is not one size fits all. Just because your friend knows someone that received 70% of their property pool, that does not mean you will receive the same. The family law process results in a different outcome in each case. By seeking legal advice, you will understand your best and worst possible outcomes.

6. Don’t have unrealistic expectations when you are negotiating.

Make sure that your negotiations are within the realm of what a Court might order at trial. If you have unrealistic expectations or adopt an unrealistic position, your matter will not resolve. This will only further delay your matter and increase your legal costs.

7. Do a budget and work out your needs.

You’ll need to support yourself, at least in the short term, so work out what are your reasonable needs. It’s sometimes possible to obtain spousal maintenance, as well as child support, and as part of assessing what’s appropriate by way of maintenance it’s essential to work out what’s reasonable needed.

8. Don’t shut down the lines of communication with your former partner.

You might be angry or upset but it is important to keep the lines of communication open. If you can communicate with your former partner in a reasonable and respectful way, you are more likely to get an outcome quickly and at minimal cost. You are also more likely to maintain amicable relations in the future, which is particularly important if you are to co-parent children together.

9. Do try to keep it peaceful.

Avoid entering into confrontations or aggressive communications. Try as much as possible to be calm, respectful and unemotional. This is particularly important when children are around or involved.

10. Don’t vent on social media.

Whatever you are feeling don’t write it on social media. It might make you feel better for a moment and your friends might encourage you, however, your comments won’t help you achieve a resolution of your family law matter and if you end up in Court, it could very well come back to bite you. People are being sued for defamation for what they’ve said on social media.

11. Do gather documents and information.

The more of your documents and information you have at the start of your matter, the easier, quicker and cheaper it goes as it progresses. Recent bank account statements, tax returns, financial statements, and superannuation statements are all relevant and will assist your lawyer to advise you at the start, and in the process of negotiation along the way.

12. Don’t move assets around without seeking appropriate advice.

You might be tempted to move assets around or withdraw large sums of money post separation. Don’t do this without first seeking legal advice. If you move assets without having a good reason, this may come back to bite you in the longer term.

13. Do a new will and attend to other estate planning matters

Unless you update your will it will still apply. That means your former partner may still inherit everything you have. Also review any Financial Powers of Attorney, Insurance policies, and Superannuation beneficiary clauses. For more detail see our Estate Planning information sheet (link).

14. Don’t enter into informal agreements about your property matters

If you enter into an informal agreement that is not formalised under the Family Law Act your agreement will not be enforceable at Law and your former partner may be able to claim a further property settlement from you in the future. If your goal is to sever your financial and emotional ties and minimise the risk of further litigation, we strongly recommend formalising any deal properly.

What's the lesson from all this?

The important thing to remember is that that no two cases are the same, that the law is complex,  and the Courts have a very wide discretion to make decisions.  It's only when you go into the detail of the matter, and understand that some factors favour one side, and some factors favour the other, that one is able to predict the outcome through the courts.  Don’t rely on friends, family or Google. It is essential you obtain specialist legal advice from us about your particular circumstances. 

Get Advice, Get it Now, Get it Right, before you go Wrong. 


Macpherson Family Law are Specialists in Family Law and Divorce Law, and have offices across Brisbane ( Newstead, Milton and Murarrie) and also at North Lakes.  

Please keep in mind this is general advice only, and you should get specialist advice on your individual circumstances