Following are some steps you need to take when a party to a marriage or de facto relationship decides to separate.

When a party to a marriage or de facto relationship decides to separate, there are a number of steps that need to be undertaken:
Date of Separation

  • Record The Date of Separation
  • Your Will
  • Property Division
  • Parenting
  • Mediation
  • Formalising Your Agreement
  • Family Dispute Resolution
  • Court Proceedings

The first thing you should do is contact Orr Legal to get your best advice moving forward. Do not make any plans or promises before you get all the best information you can. Many people find this emotional time very stressful and can make the entire process more difficult not taking the best steps right at the start.

Record The Date of Separation

It is very important when you separate that you record the date of separation. The date of separation becomes relevant when you are applying for Divorce, as the Court needs to ensure that you have been separated for 12 months before they can grant the divorce.

Your Will

Update your will. When you separate, your circumstances have changed significantly and it is very important that you update your Will to reflect that you have separated, otherwise your spouse or de facto partner may receive an inheritance under your estate if you were to pass away.


Property Division

Seek advice regarding your entitlements to a property settlement. Depending on the length of your relationship, and whether you have joint assets, you may be eligible to claim a property settlement from your spouse or de facto partner. The Family Law Act provides guidance as to the factors required in considering what an appropriate split of the property would be. This can be a complex task, as we need to look at the assets and liabilities of the parties, the contributions of the parties and the future needs of the parties. The final agreement needs to be just and equitable.


We highly advise that you call us right away to seek advice regarding your entitlements to children’s arrangements. Often discussions in this space are in high emotion, we encourage you to take a step back get the best advice from Orr Legal so your child/children are put first.

When separation occurs, a lot of the time there is confusion as to what is appropriate arrangements for the care of the children. The Family Law Act provides for the children’s best interests to be of paramount consideration when dealing with custody issues. The Court try to maintain a meaningful relationship with both of the parents unless there is risk of harm to the child/children.


Engage in negotiations regarding property settlement and/or custody arrangements.
This process can include financial disclosure where the parties provide each other with information such as funds in bank accounts, credit cards, tax returns, superannuation statements and many others. This process assists in determining what the value of the pool is to distribute.

Formalising Your Agreement

If negotiations are successful, prepare Consent Orders or a binding financial agreement to formalise your agreement. These documents provide for the ending of the financial relationship between the parties and if one party is transferring the former matrimonial home into their sole name, it will provide for an exemption of stamp duty. There are many benefits to having your agreement formalised by way of Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement.

Family Dispute Resolution

Engage in the process of Mediation. The process of Mediation can be done privately or through a Government body, such as Family Relationships Australia.
The process of Mediation involves an independent third party who assists the parties to find solutions to issues and resolve their disputes indefinitely.


Court Proceedings

If Mediation is unsuccessful, initiate court proceedings. Sometimes parties have no choice but to commence legal proceedings. If you have gotten to this stage and have not contacted us to discuss this process it is imperative that you call Orr Legal right away. You can also use our Contact Us page but please do not move to court proceedings before you get the best advice you can in the Newcastle area.