In Australia, separation occurs when one party communicates to the other party that they no longer wish to remain in the relationship.  This can occur in the context of both marriages and de facto relationships.

It is possible for parties to continue to live together and still be separated.  This is called “separation under the one roof”. Separation under the one roof exists when parties continue to live together in the same home but no longer live together as a couple.  For example, they no longer share the same bed and do not socialise as a couple.

Disagreements often arise as to the date of separation.  If you and your partner have discussed separating, or you have communicated to your partner you wish to separate, it is helpful to ensure that this communication is documented in writing.  This can be done informally, via text message or email.

The date of separation is important in the family law context.  In order to be eligible to make an Application for Divorce, parties must be separated for a period of at least 12 months.  Once a Divorce Order has been made, parties have a period of 12 months from the date of the Divorce Order to bring an application for a property settlement.

Parties to a de facto relationship have a period of 2 years from the date of separation to bring an application for a property settlement.

Separation is the first step in the family law process.  It can be difficult and confusing to navigate, particularly when children are involved.  We are here to assist you. If you are thinking of separating or have separated we can provide you advice about your situation and the best way to resolve matters arising from the breakdown of your relationship.  You can contact one of our team members on 03 9070 9839 or

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Sage Family Lawyers

Level 4, 533 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

PO Box 13110, Law Courts VIC 8010