Surviving unkind cut
Q: My husband has just asked for a divorce completely out of the blue and I am very worried because he has been managing a lot of our joint finances. What should I do?
Stephanie – Cottesloe
A: It is not unusual for one partner in a marriage to be in control of the finances, but this can be a disadvantage to the other partner when a separation occurs.
Particularly when you are in that position, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with an experienced family lawyer.
They can obviously give you an understanding of your entitlements with respect to spousal maintenance and property settlement, but sometimes more importantly at an early stage, they can provide advice about how to secure your financial position.
For example, a lawyer may suggest that you secure some cash for yourself in a new bank account that your husband can’t access, that you remove or limit redraw facilities on joint loans or that you seek to restrain your husband from selling assets without your consent.
In preparation for your appointment you should try and prepare as detailed a list as possible of all assets and liabilities owned by you and your husband (jointly and individually) or held in any family trusts.
This includes any business interests, real estate, cash, shares and superannuation, as well as existing debts such as mortgages and loans.
If you have a financial planner or an accountant, they may be able to assist you with this.