Going through a separation or divorce can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience for any couple. In Australia, family law is a complex area, and it’s important to understand the options available when it comes to separating from your spouse or partner. Many people wonder if it is possible to separate without using a solicitor. In this article, we will explore the process of separation in Australia, the distinction between legal separation and divorce, and discuss whether or not you can separate without the assistance of a solicitor by Using a Separation Agreement Template in Australia.
Separating in Australia is straightforward. You don’t both have to agree, and you don’t need to go to court or fill out forms. According to the Family Law Act, separation means the relationship has ended for at least one person. You just need to tell the other person you’ve decided to separate. You don’t have to leave your home to be considered separated.
Even though there are no legal processes or documentation required for separation, it is advisable to inform relevant agencies, such as Medicare or Centrelink, about your separation. This can ensure that any necessary changes are made regarding benefits or support.
The Role of a Solicitor in Separation
While there are no legal requirements for seeking the assistance of a solicitor during separation, obtaining legal advice becomes increasingly important in cases where the couple has been together for an extended period, particularly when there is a substantial property pool to consider. In such situations, the complexities of property division and potential long-term financial implications necessitate the expertise of a family lawyer. Conversely, for younger couples with limited assets and no children, a formal property settlement might be less essential, though consulting a solicitor can still provide clarity and peace of mind.
A solicitor’s role in the separation process is multifaceted. They are not only equipped to help you understand your rights and obligations but also assist in the preparation and negotiation of legal documents. Their expertise is especially valuable in matters relating to children, property division, and financial arrangements. Experienced in family law, a solicitor can offer tailored advice, support negotiations, and, if necessary, represent you in court proceedings, ensuring that your interests are adequately protected and advocated for.
The Distinction Between Legal Separation and Divorce
It is essential to understand the difference between legal separation and divorce. Legal separation refers to the act of ending a marriage or de facto relationship, while divorce is the formal dissolution of a marriage.
In Australia, to obtain a divorce, you must have been separated from your spouse for at least 12 months. This separation period is meant to demonstrate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation. Fault or blame for the breakdown of the marriage is not considered under Australian family law.
It’s important to note that a divorce order only ends the marriage itself and does not address issues related to property settlement or parenting arrangements. If you and your spouse need to resolve these matters, it is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure your rights and interests are protected.
Can you Separate Without a Solicitor?
Now, let’s address the question at hand: Can you separate without using a solicitor in Australia? The answer is yes, it is possible to separate without a solicitor, particularly if your separation is amicable, and you and your spouse can agree on key issues such as child custody and property division.
However, even in cases where separation is straightforward and both parties are in agreement, it is still recommended to formally and legally finalise any arrangements you have come to by either a Binding Financial agreement or by seeking orders from the court. Failing to formalise your arrangements means either party still has the right to ask the court to divide your assets and liabilities irrespective of your personal belief that the issue has been resolved.
Making an Informed Decision
Ultimately, whether or not to involve a solicitor in your separation is a personal decision that depends on the complexity of your situation, the level of agreement between you and your spouse, and your comfort level with navigating the legal process.
It’s important to keep in mind that while it may seem cost-effective to handle the separation without a solicitor, the long-term consequences could be financially devastating.
An economical option is to a Creating a DIY Separation Agreement in Australia and taking advantage of the Legal Review Service from RP Emery to finalise your property settlement. A specialist solicitor will ensure that your rights are protected, help you make informed decisions, and provide all the legal advice you need to ensure your settlement is legally binding.
Separating from your spouse or partner is a significant life event that requires careful consideration and legal understanding. While it is possible to separate informally without using a solicitor in Australia, seeking legal advice is strongly recommended to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.