Marrickville Legal Centre’s Family Law Service answers common queries about separation and divorce in Australia. This factsheet contains legal information. It is not legal advice. The legal information is current as at 9 September 2022.
Separation – what happens when my relationship ends?
When you and your partner initially separate, you do not need to sign anything to confirm your separation. This is the case whether you are legally married or in a de facto relationship.
However, if you are legally married and you want to divorce your partner, there are some steps you will need to take.
Divorce is a legal end to a marriage. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) governs divorce in Australia. To be eligible to divorce your partner in Australia, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- legally married;
- separated for at least 12 months;
- marriage has broken down irretrievably;
- care living arrangements have been made for children of the relationship under 18 years of age;
- you, as the applicant:
- are an Australian citizen, or
- live in Australia and regard Australia as you permanent home, or
- ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for at least 12 months before making the divorce application.
Have you been married for less than two years?
If the date of your marriage was less than two years before you are applying for divorce, you must attempt marriage counselling. Exceptions to this include where there are issues of domestic violence or you are unable to locate your spouse.