Planning for the future through separation and divorce

Going through the process of separation or divorce is likely to be a stressful and emotional time for the couples concerned. Not only will they deal with a dramatic change in life circumstance, but a change in relationship status may also have implications to decisions made through their Will, Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) and Advance Care Directive (ACD) documents.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 49,241 divorces were granted in Australia in 2022.[1] Couples have many choices in terms of how they navigate separation or divorce. Divorce involves a process to legally end a marriage.  Separation does not require any legal process. In either case it is important to review decisions made through these documents to ensure they reflect the current situation swiftly once the relationship has changed.

To demonstrate this, let’s consider the story of Mikaela and Ryan*, who met in the early 1970s and married in 1974. The couple settled on the Sunshine Coast, where they raised three children. Mikaela worked as a stay-at-home mother and Ryan provided for the family in full-time employment in a neighbouring town.  

Like many couples, Mikaela and Ryan faced challenges in their relationship and due to personal reasons they decided to separate after 40 years of marriage. Although a very difficult and stressful period, they knew this was the right decision and needed to understand what the future looked like, both individually and as a family. Over the years, both had played a vital role in each other’s wellbeing and contributed so much to the family unit respectively.

After a series of conversations, the couple decided divorce was unnecessary at this point in their lives, and separation was the best option for their family. The couple drafted an agreement, which set out how their assets would be distributed. They sold the family home and divided the profits evenly, in addition to apportioning Ryan’s superannuation, in line with the agreement. The couple then turned their attention to their Will, EPOA and ACD documents. Mikaela changed her appointed attorney to her youngest sister, while Ryan chose to keep Mikaela as his attorney, but also appointed their daughter Mia as joint attorney. Their Wills were updated with their personal assets, and they adjusted their ACD accordingly.

By swiftly administering these documents, Mikaela and Ryan ensured their wishes and preferences about distribution of their assets, financial decision-making, and their future health care was made very clear for their loved ones. The family still comes together to celebrate their special occasions and are very much present in each other’s lives, just in a different way.


[1] Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2022 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (

Last published: 15/04/2024 11:21:12 PM