Separating Again? Know how

5th March 2015

By Lisa Wagner

If you have recently separated for the second time or are thinking about leaving a long term relationship or second marriage (having already been separated and divorced before) there is important additional information that you should know about.

Firstly, you are not alone. Statistics indicate that second time marriages and long term relationships unfortunately have a greater chance of failing than first time marriages. It is hardly surprising given the additional pressure of a blended family that many second marriages face. There is no need to hide away and feel embarrassed in these circumstances because chances are that the person standing next to you is experiencing a similar thing.

Secondly, things have changed and one of the most significant things that have changed is you. If you are separating for a second time you are likely to be a fair bit older than what you were years ago when you went through your first marriage breakdown. You are probably less likely to have dependent children and probably more likely to have a shorter working life ahead of you. You may also be facing health challenges that did not play a part in the equation when your relationship or marriage fell apart the first time. All of these factors impact on your entitlements to a property settlement and also on any entitlement you might have to spouse maintenance so it is important to get it right.

Thirdly, there are often more options available to you the second time around. One of the more obvious ones (because you are likely to be older) is the ability you have to drawn on accumulated superannuation funds. This may take the form of a transition to retirement pension or alternatively seeking a superannuation splitting Order from your former spouse or a combination of both. Knowing how to maximise your superannuation entitlements and end up with the most money in your pocket is a specialised area and expert advice is essential.

Fourthly, a second divorce or separation can be an even greater balancing act than your first separation. This especially so if children are involved. Often couples separating for a second time have a more complicated family tree. They are probably going to be dealing with children from a previous marriage or relationship along with possibly one or more younger children from the marriage or long term relationship that they are in the process of leaving. Trying to be fair to everyone can leave you in the end being fair to no one… especially yourself. It is therefore critical to put yourself first and have a clear legal strategy in place to maximise your property settlement entitlements. This will help you provide for any other people you feel obliged to support or look after.

Fifthly, if you are leaving a second marriage or thinking about separating for a second time there is a good chance that you have played a significant part in raising your soon-to-be ex’s children from his or her first marriage. This may take the form of playing a “homemaker” or step-parent roll or perhaps you have contributed financially to the household bills and other costs that are incurred by your former ex’s children including access to a motor vehicle and tertiary education fees. If these scenarios come close to describing what your second marriage has been about then it is critical to set all of this out in your divorce. It counts. Contributions to children in a marriage, when you are not the natural or birth parent, count on your side of the equation. You will get extra credit for it and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

So, if you are separating for a second time or going through a second divorce it might seem as though the road ahead is strangely familiar and you feel a deep sense of déjà vu. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is going to be exactly the same as before because it probably won’t be. If you take note of these points you will probably find that your second separation and divorce will most probably result in a much stronger outcome for you.

If you would like to talk more about your particular situation or if you are thinking about separating for the second time or have recently separated and are contemplating your second divorce call me, Lisa Wagner of Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers on 9437 0010 or email me on enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss your matter. We offer Accredited Family Law Specialists and are experts in this area.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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