What is Separation
When two people stop living together as partners or spouses. Generally when the relationship ends with no likelihood of resuming. Separated parties are able to live under one roof.
What to do
once you separate
Seek legal advice to know your rights and obligations. Attempt to reach some agreements with your spouse/ex-partner about living arrangements for yourselves and for any children, how you will support yourselves, how rent or mortgages will be paid, and what will happen to bank accounts and property held jointly.
If you are married and now separated, there is no time limit to make a divorce application.
If you are in a de facto relationship and have separated, you must apply to the court for a Property/Financial Settlement within 2 years of the separation date.
You need to Get Organised
There is always a never-ending list of life administration to attend to. As your circumstances have changed, it is important to update things such as your Medicare card, name on utility bills, insurance policies and bank account details.
In terms of joint bank accounts, if you are concern that large sums will be withdrawn without your consent, talk to your bank to see if they can change the account to require two signatures, or alternatively freeze the account until both parties agree otherwise.
It is also important to update your will. If you need assistance with that, we have experienced Family Lawyers in Boronia who can help you with that.
This can be as much of a stressful time for your children as it is for you. It is important to consider what is in the best interest of your child. It is worth informing your children’s school about the separation so that people in your children’s environment can offer them support. This would also be relevant if there are court orders in place.
If possible, try and work out temporary arrangements regarding where your children will spend their time, with which parent, and for how long. You could note this down in a parenting plan. It needs to be written, signed and dated. Note though, a parenting plan is not legally binding.
Alternatively, one of our experienced Family Lawyers in Boronia can assist you to draw up formal consent orders for child custody arrangements. This would be submitted to the courts and would be legally binding.
Keep your possesions and Valuables with you
Make sure you have all your important documents with you such as passports, birth certificates, tax returns, financial documents and all other relevant documents.
Access to financial records is especially important, as this will be relevant in the process for Property Settlement.
Get support from an expert
Don’t forget to seek emotional assistance and support from counsellors, family members, friends or community groups.
It is important to lean on those closest to you to help deal with your feelings about your separation. It is also important to seek professional assistance through this process.
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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Frequently asked questions
You should take steps to discuss your separation with your partner or spouse to make clear that the relationship has ended, and there is no likelihood of recommencing the relationship.
A separation does not mean that property, parenting, or maintenance matters are dealt with; this is a separate process.
It is highly advantageous to seek legal advice regarding these matters to ensure you understand your rights and obligations.
Yes, separation is not the same as divorce. Divorce is ending the agreement between two parties which requires an application to the court for an order of divorce.
You must be separated for 12 months prior to applying for a divorce.
If you reconcile with your spouse for less than three months it will not affect your ability to file for divorce.
However, the period of reconciliation must be added to the period of separation so that it adds up to at least 12 months.
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
Legally, 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.
Similarly, you are obliged to meet the payments of any household bills in your name.
Yes absolutely. If you and your partner or spouse can come to an agreement about separating and other relevant matters, you do not need a lawyer. It is also okay to see a lawyer for initial advice about separating from your partner to ensure you know your rights and obligations.
Sometimes this is not possible, and lawyers will be involved to facilitate communication between the parties and try to reach a fair agreement.