What is a legal separation?

A legal separation is the point where a relationship between spouses or de facto partners ends. Whilst the date of separation may not be an issue in some cases, it is relevant to how property is divided. If there is a dispute about the date of separation, it may be necessary for the Court to make a decision about this.

I am thinking of separating. Should I see a lawyer?

Yes. Seeing a lawyer before officially separating can give you more options. If you do decide to separate, you will be armed with professional advice about your rights and entitlements. Our family lawyers can assist you through the separation process.

Do I need to sign something saying we are separated?

No separation form exists, and there is no separation register. In cases where you are applying for Centrelink benefits, a statutory declaration will need to be signed to confirm you and your partner have separated.

Are we separated even if we live in the same house?

Yes, the law recognises that a couple can be separated and still live in the same house. This is quite common, until one person is able to relocate elsewhere.

We have separated and I am moving out. What can I take with me?

You should take your personal possessions such as your clothing, but it will depend on your financial situation regarding taking other items, such as furniture.

If possible, speak to our family lawyers before you move out, as we can advise you on what is appropropriate in your situation.


How do I apply for a divorce?

You can either apply for a divorce yourself or we can assist you with the divorce application. All applications for divorce are made to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

When can I get a divorce?

Before you apply for a divorce, you must be separated for at least 12 months. However, you can make arrangements for children and a property settlement before then.

I was married overseas. Can I apply for a divorce in Australia?

Yes, provided you or your spouse:

  • Are an Australian citizen or
  • Intend to live in Australia indefinitely as a citizen or resident or
  • Intend to live in Australia and have done so for the last 12 months
If I get divorced, will decisions be made about my children and property at the same time?

No. Divorce is a separate process from:

  • Parenting and children’s arrangements
  • Child support
  • Property settlement
  • Spousal maintenance


Am I in a de facto relationship?

If you and your partner have a relationship as a couple and are living together on a genuine domestic basis, then you are in a de facto relationship.

If we have a dispute about children and parenting, are we treated differently because we’re not married?

No, de facto couples are treated the same way as married couples.

Is there a time limit for de facto couples to apply for property settlement after separation?

Yes, either party can apply for a property settlement within 2 years of separating.


How do I obtain custody of my child/children?

If parents cannot agree on where the children will live and with whom, they can ask the Court to decide. The Court considers a range of factors when deciding on the child’s best interests.

What rights do I have as a parent?

The Family Law Act focuses on the rights of children, not of parents. As a parent, you can reasonably expect to:

  • Have ongoing involvement in your children’s lives
  • See your children regularly, and
  • Be involved in ongoing decisions made about your child


If I see a family lawyer, will I end up in Court?

No, seeing a lawyer doesn’t mean that you will end up in court. At Resolve Conflict, we help most of our clients reach an agreement about their family law issues without going to Court. Our family lawyers can work with you to choose the best approach to resolving your situation.

How much do you charge?

We charge according to the amount of time we need to spend on your situation.

Our process interview is a fixed fee of $350 + GST and may take up to an 1.5 hours. Here, we provide you with the opportunity for a meet and greet and to discuss your personal situation. Then, our family lawyers will discuss the different pathways you can take to resolve issues, as well as an estimate as to how much your matter is likely to cost to resolve.

The first process interview is not free of charge. We do not do Legal Aid.

To arrange a process interview, please contact us.