Assets, joint accounts and divorce - some points to consider

Date: Oct 13, 2011

When going through the process of a separation or divorce, one of the last things that people want to have to deal with is finances.

Some may find that the emotional turmoil surrounding the breakup of a marriage stops them from being able to think clearly about how they should be handling their future - focusing instead on past experiences and the present difficulties.

However, the need to plan and organise for a life beyond the current situation does not go away, and some people may find that the time they put into organising their finances now can help them many times over when the dust settles.

To help with this, it may be a good idea for partners to attend counselling sessions to get a firm handle on their emotions and gain advice on how to deal with some of the situations they might find themselves in.

While this can take some time, tackling financial issues without a clear head can be problematic and the support gained from a professional can be invaluable.

To help gain a better perspective of where they stand, a credit report can help partners to get a clear view of outstanding debts and payments.

Once this has been established, opening up a separate bank account and other financial considerations should be undertaken, allowing individuals a certain degree of freedom that might not otherwise be available to them.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding a separation, the property that couples bring in to a relationship is relevant to the entitlements of the parties after separation.

Some divorce financial settlements may require the partners to sell off large assets that cannot be easily shared or that are jointly owned - such as housing, cars, boats and investment properties.

In these cases it is important to get independent legal advice and an independent evaluation of the assets to ensure that the eventual amounts gained from the sale or adjustment are reflected in the end division.

The contents of any joint accounts - be they shares, cash or other valuable commodities - are are also subject to adjustment between the partners.

Some couples may prefer to come to an agreement on their own for this division - a practice which can be accommodated under the applicable laws.

In other cases the partners could wish to have the amounts received by each party to be determined by an external party.

No matter which way the couple chooses to take the separation process, they would do well to seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer before undertaking any proceedings.