There are many reasons for a marriage to break down… Separating from your partner is not easy and can get complicated, so understanding the requirements and processes can be helpful during this highly emotional and stressful time.
Separation officially begins when you stop living together as a couple. Although, it is also possible to break up and still live together under the same roof. If you’re thinking about or have recently separated from your partner and are not sure where to start or what to do next, here we have outlined some common questions and considerations:
Do we need to agree to a separation?
The short answer is no, your partner does not have to agree to a separation. However, they do need to know you think the relationship is over – whether this is done in person or writing may depend on the circumstances of the relationship, and is completely up to you.
Who do I need to inform about my relationship status?
There’s no legal document or paperwork required to establish or prove your separation, however, it’s a good idea to contact the following agencies as soon as your living arrangement and relationships status changes:
- Centrelink – if you are receiving benefits or need financial assistance
- Child Support Agency – if you have children living with you, you may be entitled to child support from your partner
- Medicare – to update your card and contact details
- Your banking institution, superannuation and insurance providers – to sort out your finances and entitlements
Do we have to file for divorce?
Getting a divorce is only necessary if you want to remarry, but it’s important to know that staying married can affect your rights and obligations – particularly when it comes to financial matters, wills and estates. Notifying any relevant agencies (as mentioned above) will help to prove your separation, if you plan to file for divorce. To apply for a divorce, you must be physically and emotionally separated for a minimum of 12-months.
How do we decide who leaves our home?
In most cases, you and your ex-partner can decide who will leave and who will continue to live in the family home. If you can’t agree, you will need to apply for a sole use and occupation order from a judge – forcing one person to leave. Keep in mind that this order is only ever made in very special circumstances.
Before you choose to go to court, it’s best to ask a lawyer for advice and assistance. Going to court can be time consuming and costly, so you want to carefully consider your options before any application is made.
What happens to our children?
If your children are under 18, it’s important to communicate with your ex-partner to reach a mutual decision. Working out your new living arrangements, financial support and how much time is spent with the children is best done out of court, if possible.
If you can’t come to an agreement, attending a family dispute mediation session may help resolve issues in a less formal way, saving you time, money, and the emotional stress of going to court and leaving the decision in the hands of a judge. The court will often make an order based on the best interest of the child, which may not always be in your favour.
If you do reach an agreement about your children outside of court, the details can be set out in a parenting plan and a lawyer can help you create a consent order of negotiations – both have the same legal effect as any decision made in a court hearing.
When should we seek legal advice?
It’s always best to seek professional legal advice as early as possible so you can understand and explore all of your options. At Le Brun & Associates, our lawyers will concentrate on addressing your individual needs and concerns, whether your dispute relates to children, finances, property or all three, our family and divorce lawyers will provide comprehensive, timely and relevant advice and support designed to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
We understand that separating from your partner is an extremely stressful and emotional time, that’s why we provide a free 30-minute consultation to assess your needs and inform you of your options. Contact our team of family and divorce lawyers today for advice and ongoing support.