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How do you handle your finances through divorce?

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By Lyndsey Douglas

Love and marriage don't always work out like we want them to. That's why you have to understand the necessary financial steps in the event of divorce.

Things don't always work out as planned, no matter how well they start - including marriage. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that there were 46,498 divorces granted across the country in 2014. That's two couples in every thousand, which isn't many - but it still pays to be prepared. 

We're not trying to scare you with the threat of dissolution, but often people find their wealth management in total disarray when marriages do break down, whether amicably or not. So what do you do with your money in the event of a divorce?

Split the accounts

A lot of the time, couples will have joint accounts over the course of a marriage. This should be one of the first things you address in the case of a marriage dissolving. Speaking to your bank to set up your own account again, or transferring your money into one that already exists is going to be key.

You'll then need to close the joint account. Make sure your income and any payments you make automatically are switched over to the new transaction account too. Your home loan payments need to also be updated. 

Deal with the fees

The process can end up costing you thousands of dollars.

In addition to the stress and exhaustion that can come with a divorce, you also have to contend with fees. It hardly seems fair when you're at this point, but unfortunately, it's the law. It isn't cheap either - the base fee to apply for divorce in the Federal court is $845.

Subpoenas and hearing fees are also expensive - the process can end up costing you thousands of dollars, which you'll have to provision for.

Keep your records

Take stock of your assets, whose name is signed on for which items and lines of credit, and also keep track of when key events occur. You can't actually file for divorce until you have been separated for 12 months (but this can include living in the same house), so proof of the timeline is going to be necessary.

Rental agreements and home loans still need to be honoured as well, so the faster you can organise how these will be paid, the better.

Update your insurance

Whether it's life insurance or home and contents, important policies might have to be updated when you divorce. In fact, key changes to your living circumstances may necessitate new policies altogether.

Additionally, you might want to make changes to your will and other important next of kin information - especially if the separation is a particularly negative one.

Get represented

If you own a piece of real estate with your partner and you separate, it'll require sound financial advice and legal representation to properly split this huge asset. After all, if you can't agree on a settlement that works for both of you, it will have to be resolved in court, which can be very costly.

Applications to split property have to be done within 12 months of your divorce being made official too. It seems like a long time, but the earlier you get started on the process, the faster it can all be resolved.

For Vday @markbouris gave his best tips on how to manage love and money for life's journey!

— Yellow Brick Road (@YBRWealth) February 14, 2016

Use available counselling

Whether it's emotional or financial, there are many counselling services available for people going through separation and divorce. Dealing with custody of children, the breakdown of family homes and the financial stress that comes with it can be one of the most traumatic times of someone's life.

Getting financial advice and being able to talk to people about what's going on with the process is going to be fundamental to making it through the divorce with a clear head. Nobody likes to see a marriage break down, so it's good to lighten the burden as much as possible.

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