Separation is defined under Australian Family Law as the ending of a marriage or a de facto relationship and is not to be confused with divorce.
The law does not require you to register your separation, nor is there an ability to do so, but it is important you carefully record the date of separation as time limits apply for you to seek formal settlement of property and financial affairs.
It’s a good idea to confirm your separation in writing (letter, email, text message etc.) as you may be required to prove the date you and your partner separated.
For married couples, you must have been separated for at least 12 months before you can lodge an application for divorce. From the date of divorce you have 12 months to commence property proceedings or apply for spousal maintenance.
For de facto couples separating you have 24 months from the date of separation to commence proceedings to resolve property and financial issues.
When couples separate your circumstances change immediately. Even if the split is amicable and it is your intention to resolve your property and financial issues without legal assistance you should talk with an experienced family lawyer early to understand your legal rights and responsibilities.