Separation & Divorce

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage can be one of the most stressful and traumatic times in a person’s life. Our compassionate family law team has over 50 years of family law experience and is led by one of South Australia’s only Accredited Family Law Specialists. We are here to support and advise you through this d time.

Our services cover all aspects of family and de facto law, including:

  • Divorce and Annulments
  • Property Settlements – including complex company and Trust structures, family loans, family business and large property
  • Children’s Living Arrangements
  • Family Violence
  • Child Support and Spousal Maintenance
  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements
  • Consent Orders and Binding Financial Agreements
  • De Facto Relationships
  • Same-Sex Relationships
  • Mediation and Settlement Conferences
  • Family Law Collaborative Practice
  • Representation in Court proceedings, Trials and Appeals

Practical steps after separating

If you have recently separated or are considering separating, we encourage you to seek confidential legal advice as soon as possible with a specialist family lawyer. We will explain your rights, entitlements and obligations to guide you through the separation process, and help you reach an agreement with your ex-partner. If agreement cannot immediately be reached, we will advise you on your options, including starting Court proceedings to have appropriate orders put in place.

Following are some issues to consider when separating.

  • Prioritise your personal safety and the safety of your children. If you fear for the well-being of yourself or your children, get urgent help or advice from the police or a lawyer to apply for a restraining order. If there are no family law Orders in place, you have no obligation to provide your ex-partner access to your children if you do not believe it is safe to do so
  • If possible, talk to your ex-partner about arrangements for the children to prioritise their welfare and best interests. Let your ex-partner know that a harmonious breakup is desirable and try to come to some agreement that provides as little upheaval for the children as possible
  • Arrange to see an experienced family lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you and your ex-partner are on good terms, you both should be individually advised of your rights and obligations. An experienced family lawyer can also assist you identifying and alleviating potential issues before they arise or become more complex
  • Ensure that you have access to bank accounts, home loan accounts and investments. Keep originals or copies of important documents such as passports, marriage certificates, superannuation and insurance policies and bank statements
  • Change your passwords for email and social media accounts and internet banking to ensure that your partner does not have access to your personal information.
  • Open a bank account in your sole name and talk to your bank about additional security for any jointly held bank accounts
  • Make sure that any significant assets remain in joint names or protected from sale or transfer without your consent
  • Keep written records of relevant dates and events

Getting a divorce

A divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. An application for divorce may be made individually or jointly through the Court. In Australia, there is no need to provide any reasons for divorce other than that the relationship has broken down irretrievably.

If you’ve been separated for more than 12 months, the Court takes this as evidence that your relationship has irretrievably broken down. The Court also acknowledges that parties may be technically separated however, for various reasons, they continue to live under the same roof. These circumstances are generally related to the responsibility for children, religious, cultural or financial matters. So, even if you are separated under the same roof, you can apply for a divorce provided you swear to the separation in your divorce application.

If it has been less than two years since your marriage, a certificate from a family counsellor confirming that you and your ex-partner have considered reconciliation may be required, unless extenuating circumstances exist.

To prepare your application for divorce, you will need your official marriage certificate (this can be obtained from the SA Government Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry), personal identification, and proof of citizenship (if you were not born in Australia).

If you and your former spouse have children aged under 18 years old, the Court will need to be satisfied that appropriate arrangements are in place for their ongoing care, welfare and development. This does not mean that you need to have a formal agreement about their care, but that you will need to inform the Court about the current arrangements and whether any change to those arrangements is expected.

When you lodge your application the Court will advise the date of the hearing, usually within 2-3 months. The hearing is not long, and you may not need to attend. If granted, the divorce order becomes final in one month and one day from the date of the hearing.

We are able to assist in the preparation of your divorce and attend the hearing on your behalf.

What about property?

You can start the process of finalising your property as soon as you separate, however once a divorce order becomes final, you only have a 12-month timeframe within which to commence court proceedings for a property settlement.

A divorce order can also affect a previously made Will. If you have not already done so, you should commence negotiations (and proceedings, if necessary) to finalise your property affairs and revise or prepare a new Will. For more information about or Wills and Life Planning services please see our Wills page.

You may be able to reach an agreement with your ex-partner about how your property is to be divided without having to go to Court. Any agreement reached should be legally drafted to avoid future litigation. For more information about dividing your financial affairs after you separate, see our Property Settlements page.

What about the children?

Arranging for the future care and welfare of children after a relationship breaks down can be stressful for parents, children and other family members. The best interests of the children are the paramount consideration in all parenting matters.

Parties should make genuine efforts to resolve disputes amicably regarding parenting arrangements and may do so through considered negotiation with the assistance of their legal advisors. Agreements may then be set out in parenting plans or consent orders. For more information about family law parenting matters, see Children’s Living Arrangements.

Our family law team can provide expert advice to help you navigate and resolve the challenging and complex issues that arise in many family law matters. With a team of experienced solicitors and legal professionals led by a Family Law Accredited Specialist, we aim to exceed your expectations and continue to be one of the leading Family Law firms in South Australia.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 08 8443 4888 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.​