Divorce and Separation – What is the Difference?

Breaking off a relationship or a marriage can take an emotional toll and is undoubtedly one of the most difficult experiences a couple or family can endure.

If you have just broken up with your partner or spouse, it is important to understand the difference between divorce and separation so you can move forward without encountering any unnecessary setbacks.

This article will provide clarity on the difference between the two, and what you can expect throughout the process.

Ending a marriage or a de facto relationship is considered a separation under Australian family law.

If you no longer live together as a couple, you are separated, however it is also possible to be separated under one roof in certain situations. This means you and your partner are still living at the same residential address despite no longer being in a relationship.

Either party may initiate the separation, or both parties may come to the decision together.

You are not required to register your separation; however, you may wish to inform government agencies such as Centrelink or Medicare or make arrangements for any shared bills, debts or bank accounts you manage as a couple.

It is recommended couples undergoing a separation consult a family lawyer to receive specific, clear and tailored advice moving forward.

Divorce occurs after a couple has separated. It is the legal ending of a marriage that can only be obtained if you have been separated from your spouse for twelve months and one day in order to prove your marriage cannot be salvaged.

The family court will assess your separation based on the circumstances of your individual situation.

Divorce is a ‘no fault system’ under Australian law, which means you do not have to provide a reason for the breakdown of the marriage.

If you have separated from your spouse, you are not legally required to divorce, but you should consider seeking advice from a family lawyer so you can be informed on the legal implications that may arise if you do remain married.

It is also important to understand that divorce is a separate process from property settlement and parenting arrangements that must be made after a marriage ends.

Whichever pathway you choose to take should be decided based on you and your spouse’s individual circumstances. There are a number of options to progress the separation, and if you are confused or concerned about what is right for you, the Family Legal Resources of No Lawyers can provide advice to help you move forward and move on with your life.

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