Whether you’ve been separated for a while, thinking about separating or you’re newly separated and struggling to find your feet, we know you want some resolution and clarity.

What does it mean to be separated?

Separation is the ending of an intimate partner relationship, which includes the ending of a marriage or de facto relationship. The decision can be made by one party in the relationship (it doesn’t have to be mutual), but the end of the relationship does need to be communicated to the other party.

Although often couples no longer live together when they are separated, they can live under the one roof and still be considered ‘separated’ if they are leading separate lives.

The date of separation and its importance

In a marriage the date of separation determines when you can divorce. For both married and de facto couples, it is also important in relation to property matters. Mostly the separation date is not controversial, as it is often the date that one party moved out of a shared residence. Of course, it is a little more complex, if you have separated but still live under one roof or there are periods when you reconcile after a separation.

It’s important to know that to be able to apply for divorce, you must be able to demonstrate that you have been separated for 12 months. If this cannot be demonstrated, this is where difficulties can arise.

For property matters, the date of separation is important, as it can affect the timelines for you to seek to have a property settlement agreement approved by the Court, or to have the Court decide how the property of a relationship should be divided between the couple.

The practicalities of separation

If you’re in the early stages of considering separation, you’re likely needing some clear guidance on some practical matters like documenting your separation date, living arrangements, telling your partner, protecting your privacy and much more.

Free guide to separation

We’ve put together a free guide to separation that tells you what you need to know if you’re considering what your next steps and options are.

The guide will address the following questions:

  • What does the separation process involve?
  • When and how do I announce separation?
  • What about my family’s living arrangements?
  • How do I protect my safety?
  • What important documents do I need?
  • How can I protect my privacy and finances?
  • How are things different if my separation is amicable?

Access our free guide to separation now


Contemplating a divorce and what it might mean for you, can be overwhelming. Finding out the facts about divorce is a good way to get clarity about the adjustment ahead of you.

Divorce is…

Divorce is the legal end of a marriage (dissolution of marriage). It is a formal recognition that the marriage has ended.

The only pre-requisite needed for a divorce to be granted is that the marriage has completely broken down, and there is no reasonable chance that you and your spouse will get back together. You do not need to give other reasons to explain the reasons for separation and divorce.

The granting of a divorce does not determine issues of financial support, property division or custody arrangements for your children or pets. These things are dealt with separately, or at the same time as you formally divorce. Getting some advice either before or after you separate can help you work out the ideal order and possible pathways to make decisions about these things.

The granting of divorce does start time limits for applying to the Court in relation to most financial matters. Most financial/property proceedings arising from the breakdown of a marriage must be started within 12 months of the divorce order taking effect, unless otherwise agreed with the other party.

To apply for divorce, you need to satisfy the Court that you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months, and there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life. It is possible to live together in the same home and still be separated. This is known as being separated but living under one roof.

Have more questions?

Contact us using the form below

More on Separation & divorce

Financial abuse, the role of banks and a parliamentary inquiry

Read more

Transforming parenting arrangements: new family law changes put children first

Read more

Child support – what is it and how does it apply to me?

Read more