Before we jump into some guidelines to help you navigate your legal rights following separation, you must first figure out if you are indeed separated. Sounds strange, right? Sometimes it is not always easy to work out exactly when a relationship has ended and a couple have “officially” separated. After all, separation often happens in stages.
Working out the date of separation is important and can affect your legal rights and options.
For example, do you consider separation as when a couple stop living together? What if one person considers the relationship has ended, while the other person doesn’t agree? Or is it only official when both parties agree the relationship is over?
As a general guideline:
- For married couples, separation occurs when at least one or both of the parties considers that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
- For de-facto couples, separation also occurs when at least one or both of the parties considers the relationship is over and no longer wish to continue living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis.
Once you have tackled the question of whether you have indeed separated, the next task is to consider the three most common legal issues faced by separated couples: children and parenting, property settlement and divorce.
If you and your former partner have children under the age of 18 you will need to agree on parenting arrangements after separation.
Sometimes this can be as simple as parents getting together and working these matters out over a cup of coffee. Other times, parents may seek some outside support or assistance to help work out the parenting arrangements.
The reality is that even though the relationship has ended, you and your former partner will remain the only parents your children have for the rest of their lives. It helps if you can remain calm and future focused for the sake of both your children’s wellbeing and yours, even when it isn’t easy.
Practically, you may need to inform the Commonwealth Department of Human Resources who oversee Centrelink or the Child Support Agency to inform them of your separation.
A property settlement is the process of separating your financial affairs from your former partner on a final basis, in a legally binding way. It provides you both with peace of mind to move forward and close that chapter, both financially and otherwise, of that stage of your life.
The process of dividing property can be difficult, especially if you and your former partner are experiencing difficulty in communicating.
We recommend that you have a look at our eGuide, ‘diy guide to Property Settlements for married and de facto couples’ which provides you with everything you need to get started, and a complete step-by-step guide on tackling your property settlement, including:
- How to reach a settlement agreement and save thousands in legal fees
- How to formalise your agreement and make it legally binding
- How to divide the assets and liabilities according to your agreement
If you are married, you may be looking for the fastest and easiest way to get a divorce. The Australian system is not like the American TV shows, and you won’t be able to obtain a divorce within weeks of separation (despite how much you may want to).
To be eligible to apply for divorce you must first have been separated for at least 12 months and one day. In addition, at least one of the applicants must meet at least one of the following conditions:
- Regard Australia as their home and intend to live indefinitely in Australia
- Be an Australian citizen by birth or descent
- Live in Australia and have done so for that last 12 months (overseas holidays or trips are ok)
If you’re unsure of your legal rights or how to make an application for property settlement orders or a divorce, eDivorce can help.
We have developed informative eGuides on property settlement, parenting and divorce which can help you navigate each of the legal mindfields and make informed decisions moving forward. Click here to find out more.
When you are ready to tackle making an application to the Family Court to finalise your property settlement or apply for a divorce, we have developed personalised legal documents that can save you thousands in legal fees.
Click here to find out more.
We hope you enjoyed today’s blog.
The eDivorce team
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