Divorce is never something one plans for when they say the words ‘I do’. Unfortunately, the reality is that more than 40 per cent of Australian marriages will end in divorce. On many occasions a spouse will unilaterally decide that separation is the only option, with little warning or notice to their partner. This is likely to create emotional and financial shockwaves in any relationship. So, how can you tell if your partner is preparing for divorce? Here are some of the more prevalent indicators that can be safely regarded as “warning signs” that a spouse may be about to pull the plug on a relationship:
1. Money moving from joint accounts
It is not uncommon for spouses to pool their money into joint accounts for credit cards, mortgages or savings. Essentially they are inheriting a ‘what’s mine, is yours’ attitude. As a result of this, spouse partners effectively surrender financial independence. A spouse who is looking to leave the relationship will need to reclaim this self-sufficiency and stability by funnelling funds from a joint account into an independent account.
2. Opening new bank accounts
A spouse who is looking to create financial autonomy, will likely open a new bank account (or accounts) in their name. It allows them to manage their own money, but also to begin to build up a credit rating and history independently of their partner. This will help them with securing a rental property or housing loan. It is not uncommon for some joint accounts to be “frozen” or inaccessible during the divorce process, providing another reason to have sole access to an account.
3. Unusual spending activity/transactions
Analysing your transaction history will provide a level of insight into the day to day expenditure of your partner – if they are not intelligent enough to sufficiently cover their tracks. This might inform you whether your spouse is where they say they were, or if they are doing anything out of character. Looking at the time stamp and location of transactions will help piece together their activity when you are not together. Keeping an eye out for hotel stays, electronic purchases used for communicating undetected (such as a new computer or mobile phone), or solicitor fees will paint a picture of your partner’s intentions.
It might seem obvious, but changing passwords to bank accounts, mobile phones, computers and social media profiles is a strong indication that your partner is purposely withholding certain information from you. This is especially the case if passwords were once known to you. If your spouse begins to be vague or conceal details about their arrangements or daily whereabouts, it shows a potential lack of honesty or integrity that they may hold in the relationship.
5. Frequent absence from the family home
If a spouse is constantly making plans with friends, having drinks with colleagues after work or generally absent from the family, they may be avoiding home for a reason. This may be a sign the partner has become unengaged with the marriage, or is avoiding potential conflict within the relationship.
6. Lack of communication or willingness to engage in discussions regarding areas of disagreement
People often believe that when couples fight, it is a sign of a weak or failing marriage. In fact, when spouses can no longer be ‘bothered’ to work through their differences, it highlights their unattached attitude towards the relationship. A person who does not want to willingly work through problems or issues is someone who may have emotionally moved on. In other words, they have already mentally ‘separated’ from you. This attitude is not one that should be disregarded and should encourage you to explore your options.
7. Changing legal documents such as Wills, signatories to accounts, powers of attorney etc.
Becoming distant both emotionally and physically within a marriage, while not reassuring, is not necessarily a tell-tale sign for a spouse’s plan for divorce. It is when a spouse seeks the detachment of legally bound documentation and agreements, such as Wills, signatories to accounts and powers of attorney, which can be an indication of a more permanent separation and divorce.
It is important to remember that if you are seeing these signs in your partner it doesn’t conclusively mean that your partner is preparing for divorce. However, it makes sense to consider these factors, especially if you already suspect that your partner may be contemplating this path. Ultimately, if you suspect that you may be heading towards separation or divorce, it is important to be prepared.
In the event that you are faced with any of these particular issues or any other concerns regarding your rights in a relationship, please contact our experienced family law solicitors at Owen Hodge Lawyers. We will happily assist you in understanding your rights and responsibilities in your relationship in a friendly and straightforward manner.
Please feel free to call us on 1800 770 780 to schedule a consultation with a member of our family law team