Like all matters relating to your private life and relationships, going through a separation is a very personal experience. When going through these trialling times, be careful not to rely too heavily on the advice people give you if it is mostly based on their own experience.

Separation can mean very different things to different individuals so during this time you should take extra care to not be influenced by outside opinions too much. After all it is only you and, if applicable, your children, who first-hand experienced your marriage or de-facto relationship and have the most at stake.

When Separation Does Not Lead to Divorce

Those who are convinced that separation is always a precursor for divorce believe this because it’s either happened to them before, or they’ve witnessed it happen to someone close to them. While the majority of the time it does lead to the dissolution of a relationship, a period of marital separation most certainly does not always end in divorce. In fact, at times, although rarer, it can even help create stronger, lasting relationships.

In Most Cases, It Still Doesn’t Mean Getting Back Together

Sometimes, it leads to a breakup, but, one that is more mutually agreeable and understanding than it would have been otherwise. Nobody plans for their relationship to turn hostile, taking some time apart to re-evaluate your compatibility and gain some clarity on what your personal needs are moving forward can be a valuable experience for avoiding heated “battles” which can lead to or are commonly associated with relationship breakdowns.  Relationship counselling can also be helpful during separation.

In the best scenario; you and your spouse separately achieve a sense of clarity around continuing to live apart and ending your relationship or reconciling your relationship and moving forward as a couple. If you reconcile there is little adjustment that may be required to your legal status, assets or your children.  When your separation does lead to a final breakdown of the relationship you should seek legal assistance from a professional lawyer experienced in family law. With some good legal counsel this can make negotiating your living situation, property settlement, child custody arrangements and legal separation a lot easier and hopefully less lengthy and tedious.

When Separation Does Lead to Divorce

In most situations, separating from your spouse or de-facto partner will lead to permanent separation or divorce. If experiencing what your lifestyle might look like without your partner brings you relief, then this will likely be the case for you.

Sometimes, due to practical, financial or family arrangements, couples continue to live in the same property during separation. If it is safe and viable to do so, and, you and your ex-spouse are comfortable enough to live separate lives while temporarily sharing your living space, then you should not feel pressured to rush your relocation – especially if it means putting yourself or your children in an unsafe or financially risky living situation.

Living apart is not a requirement for proving separation or commencing divorce proceedings. Make sure to talk to a legal professional about your rights and the required documentation you will need to prove separation under one roof.

In order to apply for a divorce, you and your spouse need to have been separated for at least a period of 12 months. In order to safeguard your assets and avoiding rushing later on, you can use this time to start arrangements like your property settlement. There is no limit on when you can start your property settlement application, however, the deadline for property adjustments is one year after divorce is finalised. For defacto couples, it is two years after the breakdown of the defacto relationship.

In Any Situation, Seek Good Legal Counsel Early

There is no need to make a challenging time even harder by trying to take it all on by yourself. When going through separation and divorce, ensure that all your legal arrangements and rights are explained to you and prepared correctly by consulting with our family lawyers in Dandenong.
You are not alone.