We’re here to guide you through the complex emotional and financial challenges of separation and divorce.

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We understand that feeling stressed and overwhelmed is common during a separation and can also be acutely felt in the time leading up to a separation.

Our Separation Checklist helps outline some of the things you should consider organising prior to a separation, to ease that stressed feeling.



Collect important documents e.g. birth certificates, marriage certificates and passports and place them in safe keeping. Keep a copy of each document handy – take photos of these documents on your phone if you can.


Collect financial documents for yourself and if possible your partner, including:

  • Income Tax Returns and Notices of Assessments for the last three (3) financial years;
  • Any employment records you have including employment contracts, recent pay slips and records of leave entitlements;
  • Bank statements including savings and investment accounts, loan accounts (including personal loans, mortgages) and other liabilities (such as credit cards, store finance, hire purchases, store cards, family loan agreements etc.);
  • Share or investment statements and particulars of all shares in any public company;
  • Records and statements in relation to any entity that you are “associated” with. For companies this includes Articles of Association, Balance Sheets, Profit and Loss Statements and BAS statements. For trusts this includes Trust Deeds and Financial Statements and details as to whether you are the Appointee, Trustee or any beneficiary;
  • Details of any Real Property owned by either of you including the street address, rate notices etc.;
  • Details of other property owned by you e.g. motor vehicles (a registration certificate is helpful), tools, machinery and furniture etc. together with an estimate of the value of each. Also particulars of any items disposed of by Sale, Transfer, Assignment or Gift in the period twelve (12) months prior to separation to date;
  • Details for any superannuation account or entitlement in which you or your partner have an interest including recent statements for each and the financial accounts in relation to any self-managed superannuation fund; and
  • Details of any personal injury claim, inheritance or pending inheritance or other financial resource.



Prepare an inventory of furniture in your home and take pictures of things that are difficult to describe. Things may be removed, sold or destroyed if you are required to move out and it helps to know exactly what was there when you moved out as it can be surprisingly hard to recall later on.



Open a new bank account and apply for your own separate credit card. Perhaps consider this step with a different bank. Ask for a reasonable credit limit. You don’t have to use it at this stage but it is a helpful safety net if an emergency arises.


Find out what redraw facilities are available on your bank accounts and also determine what accounts can be operated by one signatory and what accounts require two or more signatories in order to operate. Consider getting advice about what options you have so as to best preserve assets.


Organise a modest cash flow in case of emergency. You might be relying on joint funds in the beginning but you might find that money “disappears” or is depleted more quickly than you originally expected. At other times unknown or unexpected “debts” and “bills” suddenly arise.



Remain involved in as much as you can with things your children are doing. Take up opportunities to engage in their lives. Consider speaking to your employer about flexible working arrangements that may be available, even if only in the short term.


Compile a list of all people that provide care for your children including doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, paediatricians, dentists and the like. Get up to date information about all treatments and obtain copies of all reports.


Touch base with your children’s classroom or preschool teacher just to “check-in” and understand better your child’s progress. Stay updated and involved in their school as best you can.

Social Media & Email addresses


Don’t vent on social media sites and be discrete with your posts on Facebook and the like. You don’t want compromising photos of yourself or unflattering comments circulating at this time as they can seriously backfire.


Set up a separate confidential email account and change your passwords to any personal email, social media, internet banking and other accounts. It’s a good idea to also restrict access to these accounts from the family computer or other devices accessible by other family members.

Seek professional advice


Seek specialist family law advice from a trusted expert.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers – Moving on with Confidence

At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers we specialise in complex family law matters and are conveniently located in St Leonards, on Sydney’s North Shore. We have a team of accredited and experienced family lawyers available to help guide you through the emotional and financial challenges of separation and divorce.

If you have recently separated or have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on

(02) 9437 0010

or send us an email


About the Author:

Lisa Wagner is Managing Director and Principal of Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers. Lisa is an Accredited Family Law specialist holding honours degrees in economics and law. She is also a Collaboratively trained Family Lawyer, a nationally registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and a Parenting Coordinator. Lisa has over 30 years’ experience as a specialist family lawyer, experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters; working for the majority of that time in Sydney’s CBD as well as on Sydney’s lower North Shore and Northern Beaches.

Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn

Disclaimer: 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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