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Splitting Assets & Debts

What is Separation?

The Legal Definition Of Separation

Separation simply means that your relationship is over for good. It means:

  • You are no longer living together as a couple,
  • You have stopped doing all the things that couples do,
  • Friends and family understand you are no longer together.

Nothing special is required for a separation, you don't need to sign any documents or give notice to any government departments to make the separation legal. All you need to make your separation legal is to tell your former partner that the relationship is over for good.

You should make a note of the date that you separated. Important time limits are based on the date of separation (discussed below).

If you’re receiving social security benefits, you may be obliged to notify Centrelink that you’ve separated.

It’s also possible to live in the same house, and still be separated; it’s called being separated under one roof (see your living situation for more information ).

Deadlines That Apply After Separation

After you’ve separated, these are the time limits that apply, depending on whether you’re married or not.

  • If you’re married, you need to be separated for 12 months before you can get divorced.
  • If you’re married, after the divorce is granted, there is a deadline of 12 months to divide the property you own with your former partner.
  • If you’re in a de facto relationship, there is a deadline of 2 years to divide the property you own with your former partner after the date of separation.
  • Unlike splitting property, there are no time limits in place for making arrangements for children under 18.

If you do not sign consent orders, binding financial agreement, or lodge an application with the court in this timeframe, then you may be prevented from being able to get a fair division of your assets and debts (unless you get an extension from the court).

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LawAI is a helpful and informative AI chat bot that specialises in family law enquiries.

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Caution should be taken when using LawAI as it can give incorrect information. Consider checking important information. LawAI is not a substitute for legal advice.