It can be a really, long time (think years) from the day you know it’s all over, to the day your finances are finally untangled. 

What happens in the meantime? 

Should you rush out and stock up on anti-wrinkle cream because heaven knows you’re going to need it, and he’s essentially paying for half? 

Should you book in for that cosmetic surgery you’ve always wanted now – I mean it’s going to be hard for him to get half of that later on? 

And why should you be paying for hotel rooms and restaurants when you’re not the one being wined and dined? You don’t want to see that, and you certainly don’t want to feel like you’re paying for it.

During her separation Sally felt so angry seeing the bills for restaurants show up on their joint account which were clearly her soon-to-be-ex John taking other women out on dates – especially when it was for a restaurant she’d been wanting to go to for years and he’d always said it was too expensive!

Sally, 42 divorced

During a divorce you are moving from an intertwined financial life – family home, joint assets, joint debts, joint expenses to separate, independent financials. To get from A to B you have to agree on what you have, and then on who gets what. This takes ages and is usually fraught with lots of fear and anxiety. Add to this the nausea of seeing his online dating membership show up on the joint credit card or having to justify your new lipstick addiction and, well, you can see it is a recipe for some challenges for maintaining your elegant composure. 

Every relationship breakdown is different and while this strategy might not work for everyone, it is a solution lots of couples find helpful. 

A new bank account

  1. Write down a list of expenses you have personally and as a family. Then try to agree who is going to pay for what and how it is to be paid IN THE INTERIM. This is not binding or forever, it’s just for right now so you both have clear expectations of what’s happening in the interim and can try to reduce awkward justifications and recriminations. Over time the list of who’s responsible for what can change to reflect new housing situations and so on. At its most basic, just the very personal expenses are separated from combined accounts. 
  2. These agreements are useful in helping to make decisions when it comes to the final settlement whether that is by agreement or through court. 
  3. You both set up new bank accounts in your own names (if you don’t have one already) and keep them separate from all your other accounts so the money doesn’t get muddied and confused.
  4. You agree on an amount for each of you and that this is essentially a down-payment from your final settlement.

For example, let’s say that:

  • you each start with $25,000 in your new accounts. 
  • The rest of your marital assets on the final day are worth $1m. 
  • The $50,000 that was already paid out is added back on making the total family asset pool $1,050,000. 
  • Again, to keep the maths simple, assume you get 60% (personally, I don’t love a % outcome but let’s go with it for the sake of this exercise). 
    • You would be entitled to $630,000 ($1,050,000 * 60%). 
    • You would receive $605,000 from the family pool and keep whatever’s left from your initial $25,000. 
    • He would get be entitled to $420,000 ($1,050,000 * 40%).
    • He would receive $395,000 from the family pool and keep whatever is left from his initial $25,000. 

Obviously I don’t suggest you do, but if you’ve blown it all on Chanel rouge and breast enhancements, then that’s your call, but you have been in control and haven’t had to justify those choices to anyone or engage in a tit for tat (pardon the pun) about who spent what on what. 

Aynsley Jurson and Nest Wealth Pty Ltd (ABN 53 605 826 560) are authorised representatives of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth Pty Ltd (ABN 33 093 667 595 ) holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL No. 247 429).

This information is of a general nature only and has been provided without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Because of this, we recommend you consider, with or without the assistance of a financial adviser, whether the information is appropriate in light of your particular needs and circumstances.