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Blue Skies

How do you legally separate?

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What is separation?

Whether you’re married, or in a de facto or same sex marriage, separation is when you stop living together as a couple.

You don’t have to agree for a separation to happen. It happens when one party makes a decision to separate, acts on that decision and tells the other person. You can’t prevent a separation if that’s what your partner wants.

At some stage, you might have to show that you’ve separated and when you separated. For example, if you want a divorce, you’re required to be separated for at least 12 months before you can apply. The date of separation can also be relevant and important in property and parenting disputes.

It is possible to be separated and still live together in the same home. It’s known as ‘separation under one roof’.

How do you become legally separated?

There’s no legal process you have to follow to be separated. Keep in mind, that if you and your ex can’t agree on a date of separation, you might need to be able to prove that you’re separated and when you separated.

Why is it important to prove when you separated?

Whether you were married, in a de facto or same sex relationship, your separation date might be the start of an important time limit.

It can affect things like...

  •  parenting arrangements

  •  financial arrangements

  •  when your assets are valued

  •  when you can apply for a divorce

  •  when child support payments commence, and

  •  when your entitlements to government benefits start or finish.

How to prove when you separated

It would be really useful to keep a diary of significant dates including your date of separation, any changes to living arrangements, or changes to parenting or financial arrangements.

You might be able rely on things like emails, messages, social media and letters to prove when you separated.

Be aware, you may need to contact Centrelink, Medicare and other government agencies to inform them of your separation.


  1. Your date of separation is important.

  2.  It can affect various things including your property settlement.

  3. Take steps to make sure you can prove the date you separated.

What next?

Would you benefit from a structured, step by step approach? We can help you identify issues and understand your options for resolving them. Check out our Separation Guide. We’re here to help.

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