Divorce & Separation

Divorce and separation are challenging times for everybody in a family unit. If you take the right steps at the beginning of a family break down, you can prevent complications later on.

We understand the risks during separation and divorce and what is required to resolve them with minimal impact on your family.

Separation doesn’t always lead to divorce, but if you have been separated for twelve months or more, divorce is an option.

It is important to get the right advice early to avoid your situation becoming more complicated than it should.

What each party believes they are entitled to regarding assets and time with children often changes as a separation progresses. For married and de-facto relationships, there is usually a need for a legal agreement to be made that clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities for each party.

What happens during a marriage or relationship separation?

When a married couple decides to separate, they choose to end their relationship even though they are still officially married. De-facto couples and married couples have the same legal rights during separation.

Often one party will move out of the house but sometimes both stay in the family home for a time for the sake of children involved. This can be a complicated and stressful situation, especially if the children experience conflict between their parents.

It is important to understand that while both parties names are on a lease or mortgage, they both have a right to live in the house. If you are experiencing domestic violence, your situation is different, and you should contact your solicitor.


Mediation is a cost-effective way to learn how to communicate with your ex-partner and come up with suitable living arrangements that work for everyone involved. Mediation can help separated couples to resolve their disputes or proceed with a divorce without needing to go to court.

During separation, notifying schools, your doctor and family lawyer about your situation can help you build a strong support network for your family.

Legal complications during separation

Separation is one of the most stressful events that can happen in a lifetime. It is important to get the right information from a solicitor about your and your ex-partner’s rights.

Friends and family may have been through a similar situation and might try to give you legal advice, but every situation is different. If you don’t get the correct legal advice, you can’t know what your rights and entitlements are. This makes it difficult to move forward with your life without possible legal consequences.

When can I get divorced after separation?

To apply for a divorce you and your ex-partner must be separated for at least twelve months and must also:

  • Be an Australian citizen
  • Live in Australia or regard it as your permanent home
  • Have lived in Australia for twelve months before the application

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for divorce in Australia even if you were married overseas.

How can Rafton Family Lawyers help?

We understand that divorce and separation is a stressful and emotional time. We are also aware of the different complications that can occur and how to avoid and manage them. Our goal is always to achieve this with minimal impact to you and your family.

Part of this involves having a plan that includes ways to minimise legal costs. If you are experiencing a family breakdown, contact one of our family lawyers for advice on managing your situation with as little impact on your family as possible.

Read our plain English handbooks

These fact sheets are designed to provide an overview of the relevant issues and systems so that you have a better understanding of the process.

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