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Separation is the breakup of a committed relationship between two people.  Separation can be the end of a defacto -relationship or a marriage. Separation can occur under one roof or two people living in separate accommodation.

The primary requirement for divorce in Australia is that the marriage must have irretrievably broken down. To prove this, one or both spouses must prove to the family courts that they have been separated for at least 12 months before making the divorce application and that there’s no chance of reconciliation.

Legal requirements for the marriage separation under Family law Act –


Meaning of separation

The parties to a marriage may be held to have separated notwithstanding that the cohabitation was brought to an end by the action or conduct of one only of the parties.

(2)  The parties to a marriage may be held to have separated and to have lived separately and apart notwithstanding that they have continued to reside in the same residence or that either party has rendered some household services to the other.

Full Court in Pavey [1976] FamCA 36 at [7]-[23]: explained separation as, “means more than physical separation – it involves the breakdown of the marital relationship (the consortium vitae). Separation can only occur in the sense used by the Act where one or both of the spouses form the intention to sever or not to resume the marital relationship and act on that intention, or alternatively act as if the marital relationship has been severed. What comprises the marital relationship for each couple will vary. Marriage involves many elements some or all of which may be present in a particular marriage – elements such as dwelling under the same roof, sexual intercourse, mutual society and protection, recognition of the existence of the marriage by both spouses in public and private relationships, and the nurture and support of the children of the marriage.”

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