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Important Things to Consider When Separating — From a Lawyer

family law Feb 27, 2024

So, you’re separating? What do you do now? 

Navigating the journey of separation and divorce can be a daunting and emotionally challenging experience for couples. As you find yourself at this crossroads in your relationship, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what important things to consider when separating. However, with our family lawyers’ guidance and support, you can approach this transition with clarity and confidence, starting with 10 things to start thinking about now.

This article provides important things to consider when separating whether you were married or in a de facto relationship. It’s important to remember your personal circumstances will change some considerations, so speaking with a separation and divorce lawyer is recommended.

What is separation? 

Separation refers to the end of an intimate partner relationship. This includes the end of a de facto relationship, marriage or other personal relationship. It’s often a difficult time and there are many things to consider, such as legal impacts, rights and options. 

9 Things to Consider When Separating

Know your legal rights and options.

One of the first, and most important, steps in the separation process is gaining a clear understanding of your legal rights and options. This may differ slightly from state-to-state and is very personalised to your circumstances. Consulting with a family lawyer for advice is essential in understanding the process and your unique circumstances so you know where you stand.

Explore alternative dispute resolution methods.

It’s a common misconception that separation divorce means you have to go to court and battle it out. However, there are many alternative dispute resolution methods, like mediation, that offer a more amicable and cost-effective approach to resolving conflicts.

Family mediation and collaborative lawyer negotiations are two options that prioritise open communication, negotiation and cooperation between parties. These methods can help you reach mutually acceptable agreements while minimising the stress and expense of courtroom battles. 

“At Aspire Lawyers, we prioritise negotiations with the aim of settling outside of court. This gives you the most freedom and flexibility in coming to an agreement. We do not want you spending years in court to have a judge make a decision that is out of your control. We understand that for some, court is a must. But we aim to settle as many matters as we can to save you time and money, so you can move on with your life and start your new chapter.”

Seek emotional support.

Separation and divorce can take a significant emotional toll on both parties involved. It’s essential to seek out emotional support from friends, family or a therapist to help you cope with the challenges of this transition.

Remember, you are not alone and there are resources available to help you navigate this difficult time. Being emotionally stable will also help you maintain your composure in court, mediation or when meeting with your ex-spouse for negotiations. 

Be open and honest in communicating about the decision to separate.

Being honest is incredibly important throughout your separation and divorce, potentially even more so if there are matters involving children. When one or more parties in a separation or divorce are not open and honest, it can hold up proceedings or settlements, which increases costs and can even have legal consequences if you are under oath.

Decide on living arrangements.

There are no rules about how you must live with an ex-spouse after separating or divorce. One spouse can move out, you can both find other residences or you can even live within the same household. 

However, where you may need to get a lawyer involved is when you decide to sell property, or when living arrangements can’t be decided. This is when mediation can help you find an arrangement that suits you both or is fair.

Determine the official separation date.

The official date of your separation is very important. This can impact when you can file for divorce, as you must wait 12 months after separation to be able to formally file with the court, unless agreed with the court for special circumstances. 

The other reason the official date of separation is important is it can impact property settlement. For de facto couples, property settlement must be arranged within 2 years of separation, or within 1 year for married couples. If there is debate about the official date of separation, you may wish to consider when you made the decision, told friends and family, separated finances, stopped sleeping in the same bed, etc. You may also wish to seek advice from a family lawyer for advice on the matter if a date cannot be determined and agreed on by both parties.

Assess the financial matters, including assets, debts and accounts.

Whether you were married or in a de facto relationship, it’s likely you shared assets, attained debt or had accounts in both names. An important thing to consider when separating is what will happen to these assets, debts and accounts, such as bank accounts, savings accounts, offset accounts. Remember, property, shares, investments, superannuation and more may be considered assets.

You may have heard people go to court for property settlement. If you cannot come to an agreement with your ex-spouse about the division of assets, debts and accounts, you may need mediation or to attend court for a decision to be made. In some cases, the decision may be made for you. Things like if you have children, who cares for dependents and financial situations may impact how property settlement occurs.

Consider arrangements for children, including custody and co-parenting.

A difficult area of separation is often around children. If the separation is not on good terms, it can be difficult to come to agreements on custody and co-parenting arrangements for children, which is where you may need to attend mediation or the family court. 

Every child custody and co-parenting situation is unique. This is why it is recommended you speak to a family lawyer about your best options and road forward.

Create legal documents, like separation agreements or parenting plans, if needed.

Even if you are on good terms with your ex-spouse, it’s important to have any arrangements regarding your separation in writing and signed by both parties, and witnessed. While these documents may not hold up in court if they have not been executed by a lawyer, they may be considered and helped if a matter does end up in court. 

If you do want legally binding documentation for your separation, contact a family lawyer. They will help you ensure you have dotted your is and crossed your ts.


While the process of separation can be daunting, it's essential to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. By seeking legal support, exploring alternative dispute resolution methods, and prioritising the well-being of your children and yourself, you can navigate this challenging time with grace and dignity. With the right support and resources, you can lay the groundwork for a brighter future as you embark on this new chapter in your life.

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Our transparent, fixed-fee legal services in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth can help you utilise the law to positively influence your future. Book a free consult today. 

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