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What is Separation

In Australian Family Law, separation occurs when a couple decides to end their relationship, ceasing cohabitation and intending to live separate lives without prospects of reconciliation.

Sometimes, due to financial constraints, childcare responsibilities, or other practical reasons, couples may experience “separation under one roof,” where they continue living in the same household despite the breakdown of their relationship.

If you are separated or considering separation, it is important to get advice early on to set the right expectations and understand your legal rights and obligations regarding property, finances, and parenting arrangements.

Key things To Consider

When separating, there are several key things you should carefully consider to ensure a smooth transition and secure future.

Firstly, consider your financial situation. This includes understanding your assets, liabilities, and any ongoing financial responsibilities, such as mortgages and loans. A clear financial picture will help in negotiating fair settlements and planning for financial independence post-separation.

If children are involved, their well-being and stability should be your top priority. It’s important to establish a plan that covers their living arrangements, educational needs, and overall welfare. This plan should support their development and provide as much stability as possible during this period of change.

Additionally, separation can be emotionally taxing for both you and your children. Make sure you have emotional support through counselling or therapy during this challenging time. These services provide a space to express feelings safely and learn coping strategies, aiding in emotional resilience.

Lastly, start planning for your future independence. This includes updating wills, insurance policies, and other personal documents to reflect your new circumstances.

By addressing these areas thoughtfully, you can navigate the complexities of separation with confidence and clarity, setting a foundation for a positive next chapter in your life.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need an agreement to separate?

It's important to communicate with your partner about the end of your relationship. Separation itself does not settle property, parenting, or maintenance matters, these are all separate areas of family law which you will need agreement on. Seek legal advice early on to ensure you understand your rights and obligations.


If I separate do I still need to get a divorce if I am married?

Separation is not the same as divorce. Divorce is the legal process signifying you are no longer married. Obtaining a divorce requires a court application after a 12-month separation period.


How long will it take for me to finalise my family law matter?

Your journey and how long it lasts depends on many factors, including the complexity of the case, cooperation between parties, and court resources.


Can I change the locks to keep my spouse out?

Yes, however, this is not advisable if the family home is owned by you and your spouse jointly, as you will both have the right to occupy the property unless a court orders otherwise. Taking this type of action will only escalate what is already a stressful situation and may lead to more lengthy, hostile and difficult separation proceedings


If I leave, do I still need to pay the Mortgage?

If you are both named on the mortgage, you will both continue to remain jointly liable for meeting any mortgage repayments, even if you choose to leave the family home. You should seek financial advice if you are experiencing hardship.

Get support from an expert

Navigating a separation is not just a legal process, it’s an emotional journey too. During this challenging time, it’s crucial to seek both emotional support and professional guidance. Connect with counsellors, financial planners, real estate agents, accounts and rely on family, friends, or community groups for support. They can offer the comfort and understanding necessary to manage the emotional aspects of your separation.

At The Family Lawyer, we appreciate separation is a deeply difficult and confronting time. We take the time to listen and understand your circumstances, and provide you with advice regarding your family law issues.

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