Sadly, many marriages and de facto relationships come to an end. It is not uncommon for two people in a long-term relationship to experience stresses in their relationship that they cannot overcome. There also may be extenuating circumstances which make staying in a marriage or a de facto relationship unreasonable.
Australia is a “no-fault” jurisdiction for relationship break downs. This means that the law does not look for, or recognise, any fault or blame in relationship breakdown. The law assumes that if you have separated your relationship has irretrievably broken down. It is the fact of separation – not the cause of separation – that matters from a legal point of view.
Therefore, if you and/or your partner no longer wish to remain in the relationship, you can separate. Separation generally occurs when one party believes the relationship to be over, when they communicate that fact to their partner and then commence living separately from the other party.
Separation normally occurs with one party leaving the former joint home. However, you can be separated while living under one roof. Living separately under one roof generally requires both parties living separate lives, separating their finances where they can and sharing the fact of separation with friends and family. You will need to prove these things to a court if you want to get a divorce or establish the date your de facto relationship has ended.
A 12 month period of separation is required if you want to divorce your partner. If you are in a de facto relationship you can terminate it immediately by separating.
If you are planning to leave your relationship, or have already done so, as a result of family violence, there are special support services that are available to make your transition a safe one. See our tab above about Family Violence.
Separation can be a difficult time for you and your family. Naturally, you, your partner (and your children if you have any) will be grieving for the end of the relationship as well as learning to adapt to this very significant change in your life. You can find support with your family and friends, as well as separation and divorce counselling within your community. Counselling services are offered both publicly and privately, as well as through your GP.
You, your former partner and your family can utilise the following public services as you transition through your separation:
- Relationships Australia provides low and no-cost specialist separation and family counselling for adults and children. Call 1300 364 277 or visit their website here.
- Anglicare WA also provides low and no-cost counselling for adults and children going through a family separation. You can contact Anglicare WA on (08) 9263 2050 or visit their website here.
- Centrecare provides support services and counselling to parents and families going through separation. You can contact Centrecare on (08) 9325 6644 or visit their website here.
- Family Relationships Online has a number of resources and counselling information available online. Visit their website here for more information.