What Does Separation Mean in Marriage and How Long Should It Last?

Close up of decisive woman take off wedding ring make decision breaking up with husband, filing for divorce

In Australia, a marriage separation occurs when you and your partner stop living together in a domestic or marriage-like relationship. Your partner doesn’t necessarily need to agree to the separation, but they do need to know the relationship is over. 

Separation occurs in the context of both marriages and de facto relationships. While there are no legal processes to become separated, a marriage separation is an essential first stage of getting a divorce. Below, the team at Melbourne Law Studio outlines the role of separation in getting a divorce.

Date of Separation

The date of separation is important if you want to apply for a divorce. You must be separated for at least 12 months before filing for divorce. Once a divorce order has been made, you have 12 months from the date of the official divorce to apply for a property settlement.

The date of separation is typically counted from the day the separation was communicated to the other person or agreed upon in the case of an amicable and unified split. Disagreements can arise about the date of separation. 

If you and your partner have had conversations about separating, or you have told your partner you want to separate, make sure that you document it in writing. Text message or email is sufficient, as the notification of intent to separate needn’t be done formally.

Separation Under One Roof

It is possible for parties to continue living together and still separate. Separation under one roof is when you continue to live together in the same home but one or both of you considers your relationship to have ended. For example, you no longer share a bed for any reason and no longer socialise as a couple.

What to Consider When Separated and Considering Divorce

Separation is often the last resort for couples who cannot come to a reconciliation. Many ultimately decide to go down the path of divorce. However, it can be challenging to work through the emotional and financial ramifications of divorce. 

If you’re unsure about permanently ending your marriage, a separation can give you both the opportunity to consider your relationship. Both parties can still protect their rights financially with a separation agreement, which can be drafted with help from a separation lawyer. For example, some couples may not want to get divorced due to religious, financial or other practical or personal reasons. In other cases, a divorce may be preferred, such as if one of the parties is unhappy, the relationship is unsafe, or one party wants to remarry. 

Get Advice from Our Melbourne Divorce Lawyers

Marriage breakups can be stressful and painful, therefore it’s a good idea to seek advice from a family lawyer as this area of law can be complex for those unfamiliar with it. For help drafting a separation agreement or for any other assistance with separation and divorce, a separation lawyer at Melbourne Law Studio can help. 

Book your free 15-minute consultation today with our team of Melbourne divorce lawyers. Call us on 03 9021 1421 or contact us online.

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