Services > Separation

The breakdown of your marriage or de facto relationship can be a difficult time. We understand how hard it can be. Making the decision to separate, or taking the next steps when you have recently separated, may be fraught.

In some circumstances your safety or well-being may be an issue. We can guide you before and after separation. Let us make all the difference.

What is separation?

To be legally separated you need:

  • at least one of you to form an intention to end the relationship;

  • to communicate that view to the other;

  • at least one of you to act on that intention or act as though the relationship has come to an end.

Why is the date of separation important?

You cannot obtain a divorce unless you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for a period of 12 continuous months prior to the date of application.

Separation date is also important for property division and financial or spousal maintenance applications.

To avoid later dispute, it can be helpful to clearly communicate your intention to separate in writing to the other party and keep a record of the date you separate.

What does living separately and apart mean?

No two relationships are the same. No single factor will establish separation. For example, separation is not determined solely by whether or not you live separately, or under the same roof. All relevant circumstances of your relationship should be taken into account.

  • Do you act as though your relationship has come to an end?

  • Are you living together but believe you are separated?

  • Do you live apart but act as if you are a couple?

We can provide clear and simple legal advice about whether your living arrangements demonstrate separation.

Does separation affect my rights and responsibilities for my children?

When you separate, decisions often need to be made about who will have the care of the children, and when each party will look after them.

Usually such matters are resolved by simple agreements, known as parenting agreements or parenting plans. We can assist you with advice on parenting agreements.

Does property need to be resolved within a certain time frame or before we divorce?

Property and financial support can be negotiated at any time from separation. However, there are time limits if you want to apply to the Court for family law orders for property and financial support.  

A Court application to resolve property division, financial support or spousal maintenance, needs to be filed no later than:

  • Two years from the date of separation for de facto partners; or

  • One year from the date of divorce for married partners.

If you apply outside of these time limits, the Court may not allow you to make your application.

When should I seek legal advice?

Preliminary legal advice on separation, property and parenting is very useful. If you are contemplating separation or have recently separated, let us guide you on the immediate legal issues which may arise and provide you with the information you need.

  • Get started with our online system

  • Answer a few questions for an instant, personalised summary of where you stand and how we can help.

  • Save time and money if you book in for an appointment.


More areas to explore: