When you first split up, you can both just agree to separate: you don’t need to involve a lawyer. It’s a good idea to write down the agreement to separate, and then both sign and date it.

If there has been violence involved and you need to work out what to do about care of the children as well as relationship property, we recommend you get a lawyer to help you.

To file for a divorce, now called ‘dissolution of marriage’, you must be separated for two years. You need to provide a statement and some evidence that you have been living apart for two years – if you both say you have, this is enough – and that you have both sorted out the care of your children.

How can I sort out the property when my relationship has ended?

If you’re leaving the relationship, don’t sign an agreement about dividing property until you talk to a lawyer. Don’t believe the abuser if they say you will get nothing if you leave the relationship. At the time of a crisis, many women don’t ask for what is rightfully theirs – they are scared or they just want the relationship to be over.

If you have agreed to an unfair division of your property, if your ex-partner has hidden money in a trust or business, or if you were forced to sign a ‘prenuptial’ agreement, you may still be able to redress it later with the help of a lawyer.

If you’ve been in a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship for three years, you are entitled to have the property shared equally between you and your partner if you separate or if they die.

The Family Court may award lump sums to the partner that is going to have the least money after the break-up. This may reflect the way the relationship was organised, such as one partner giving up their job to look after the children while the other partner advanced their career.


Fresh Start: A Practical Guide for Women Wanting to be Free From Abusepdf

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