Separation is an emotional and challenging time. Many people who have experienced separation talk about the benefits of speaking with their friends and families about their thoughts and feelings. There are also many community organisations and professional people trained to assist you and your children to adjust to the changes separation brings. The following organisations provide family counselling and mediation services that may be of assistance to you:
- Family Relationship Centre
- Relationships Australia
- Unifam Counselling and Mediation
If you are contemplating a separation it is important to keep in mind and plan for the following issues:
- Where your children will live and who will take care of them
- How you will support yourself and your children financially
- How your bills will be paid and who will be responsible
- Who will stay in the house and what arrangements need to be made to pay the mortgage or rent
- What will happen to any joint bank accounts, credit cards etc.
- What will happen to the house, cars, furniture and other property
Where there are no concerns for personal safety, it is very important that you and your former partner are able to talk to each other. It may take some time to finalise all of your parenting and property affairs. It is important that in the meantime, short-term arrangements can be made about practical issues involving your children’s living arrangements, your finances and property.
It is important to seek legal advice from a qualified Family Lawyer. We can advise you so that you can begin the process knowing where you stand, what your priorities are and what options are available to you.
Divorce is the term many people think of when a marriage comes to an end. In reality, divorce is one of the last steps to be undertaken after a married couple separates. Whilst divorce marks the legal end of a marriage (it is the Court’s declaration that a marriage no longer exists) it does not resolve the living and care arrangements for children or the division of property, financial resources and debt. Divorce merely is a formality to be considered once the arrangements for children and the division of property and maintenance issues have been resolved. The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia is the Court that usually hears divorce applications. The Court might not grant a divorce unless it is satisfied that appropriate arrangements have been made in respect of the care of children.
In Australia, either party to a marriage may apply for a divorce. There is no requirement of fault to obtain a divorce. A divorce will be granted once irretrievable breakdown of marriage is demonstrated by a period of 12 months separation. Parties can be accepted as separated even though they’re still living under the same roof if they provide appropriate evidence of the circumstances. Where an application for divorce is filed within 2 years after the date of the marriage, the court will usually require a counselling certificate stating that the parties have considered reconciliation with the assistance of a specified counsellor. Counselling may be individual or joint, depending on the circumstances. Proof of separation, time married and considerations for the children must be presented to the court when applying for a divorce.
If the court is satisfied that you have met all the criteria for a divorce the divorce will be granted on the basis that, provided there is no appeal of the decision, it will become absolute in a month at which time you will be able to remarry. If that is the case you might like to consider a Binding Financial Agreement to quarantine the assets that you have acquired to date.
Once your divorce is granted, if your property and maintenance affairs have not been finalised in a legally-binding way within 12 months of the divorce coming into effect, an application for the Family Law Courts to make such Orders cannot be made without first seeking leave of the Court to do so.
It’s very important that you seek legal advice if you are contemplating a divorce. Further information about divorce may be obtained from the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia.