People tend to use ‘separation’ as another word for ‘divorce’, or vice versa, in the event of a marriage breakdown. Legally speaking, the two terms have different meanings in family law. It is important to understand the differences as it may affect your rights.
‘Separation’ represents the time at which a married couple, or one of them, have decided that their relationship is over. In some instances, often for financial reasons, couples may choose to remain living under the same roof yet still be separated. ‘Separation’ does not require legal Court documents to be filed which means that you are still legally married at this point. That said some of your legal rights will have changed:
- If there are children involved negotiations need to be made for each parent to spend time with the child/children and for the financial support of the children (child support).
- If a couple is unable to mutually reach an agreement in relation to access arrangements, there is a requirement to attempt mediation using a Family Dispute Resolutions Practitioner to help negotiate an agreement, before you can take a matter to Court.
- You can also commence negotiations in relation to the division of property. If agreement is reached, the agreement can be finalise by way of Consent Orders or a Financial Agreement. You do not need to be ‘divorced’.
‘Divorce’, on the other hand, is how you officially and legally end a marriage. If you wish to divorce your spouse, you must have been:
- Separated from your ex-spouse for at least 12 months and;
- Living separately and apart (this can include a period of living under the same roof).
At this stage legal documents are filed with the Family Court.
If you have separated or are considering separating from your spouse, it is best to speak to one of our qualified Family Dispute Resolutions Practitioner. We can provide you with the right advice, best solutions and guided support for you and your family. Contact Bayside Mediation to book a free 30-minute interview to discuss your matter.