Separation agreements & Orders

When your relationship breaks up, you have the option of working together with your former partner. This is called a separation agreement. If you are not able to agree to separate, or are unable to agree when you separated from your former partner, you can ask the Family Court for a Separation Order.

What is a separation agreement?

This is when you agree with your former partner and you are both clear about when the relationship ended, and what you are each responsible for, such as:

  • caring for children,
  • paying a mortgage,
  • looking after pets or
  • dividing property.

The time you’ve been separated for is important in divorce proceedings. You need to prove you have been separated for 2 years or more, and if you and your former partner agree on this timeframe, this is much easier for you both.

If your agreement covers how you will divide property, you each need to receive independent legal advice. A lawyer for each of you must sign a document to confirm this.

Note: A separation agreement is between you and your partner and does not involve the court.

What is a Separation Order?

If you don’t agree with your former partner about when you separated, or if one of you wants to separate and the other doesn’t, you can ask the Family Court to make a Separation Order.

A Separation Order is a legal declaration that you separated at a particular date and do not have to live together.

A Separation Order doesn’t cover care of children or relationship property.

Find out more about:

Applying for a Separation Order when you both agree to separate

Applying for a Separation Order when you don’t agree to separate

What about when one person dies?

If you have a Separation Order and your former partner dies without leaving a will, you will lose the right to inherit.

Caring for children

If you can’t agree about how you will care for your children, there are ways we can help you come to agreement without having to go to the Family Court:

  • Parenting Through Separation
  • Family Dispute Resolution

If you still can’t agree after the course and mediation, you can go to the Family Court to get a decision made.

Find out more about resolving disagreements on how to care for your children

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