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You’re separated when you stop living together as a couple.
Separation occurs when at least one person in the relationship makes the decision to separate, acts on that decision and tells the other person. Your partner doesn’t have to agree.
You can be separated and still be living in the same home.
There are no legal requirements for separation. If you’re new to Australia, or are worried about residency, get legal help.
You’re separated when you stop living together as a couple. One person may move out of the home, or you can be still living at home together but have separate lives—this is called ‘separation under the one roof.’
You may have to prove these living arrangements to agencies such as Centrelink. When deciding if you are separated under the one roof, they will consider whether:
No single factor is conclusive.
There are no legal processes to separate. You don’t have to apply to a court, to a government organisation, or fill in any forms. You won’t get a certificate saying you are separated, but you may need to:
Taking these actions will help prove that you’re separated. You may need legal advice.
For more information on property settlements when a relationship ends see dividing your property.
Related publications and resources
Life after separation —putting the pieces back together (video) services available for people separating. It gives a 'real-life' scenario focusing on 2 families.
What are my rights if I want to separate from my partner? (pocket pack)
Information about your legal rights when considering separating from your partner.
What are my rights if I want to separate from my partner? for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
Information about your legal rights when considering separating from your partner—for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
You and family law—a short guide booklet
Information on family law for people who are thinking about separation or who have separated.
Queensland courts domestic violence videos
A series of videos explaining the court process for domestic and family violence.
Divorce and separation financial checklist
Practical steps about how to separate finances and your money back on track after a separation or divorce. Watch a short video
Asset stocktake calculator
Helps with the property settlement process by giving a summary of assets and debts either as a quick financial overview or with more detail.
In most cases, you and your ex-partner can decide who will leave the home. If you can’t agree then you can apply to the court for a sole use and occupation order forcing one person to leave. This order is only made in special circumstances. Get legal advice.
If you’ve experienced domestic violence you can ask the court for a domestic violence protection order forcing the other person to leave the home — get legal advice.
A person can’t be forced to leave a house they own in their own name or jointly unless the court has made a sole use and occupation order or a domestic violence protection order.
If there is a domestic violence protection order against you and it says you must not be at your home, then you have to leave. You should obey the order and get legal advice. For more information see Domestic and family violence.
If you have to leave you won’t lose your rights to the house or your possessions. You may be able to return at a later time. You should think about your safety and your children’s safety first — get legal advice. For more information see protecting your property.
When leaving your home you can legally take anything you own individually or that you own with another person. You should take personal documents, such as:
You can take your children with you, but you should make sure you consider what’s in their best interests. This includes giving them the benefit of both parents’ meaningful involvement in their lives and making sure they are protected from physical or psychological harm.
If moving away from the area makes it harder for the other parent to see their children, you should try and get their agreement first — get legal advice. For more information see Moving or traveling with children.
You may need legal advice if you:
We may give legal advice about separating.
The following organisations may be able to give legal advice:
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.
These organisations may be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.
DV Connect gives counselling, information, referral and help including refuge and shelter placement and crisis intervention to people affected by domestic violence. They also manage the Pets in crisis project arranging foster care for pets while people affected by domestic violence are in temporary accommodation.
Family Relationship Advice Line gives information about the family law system in Australia.
Family Relationship Centres give information, referrals, dispute resolution and advice on parenting after separation.
Family law courts deal with family law cases. Court forms and information on family court processes are available online.
Women's Safety After Separation (WSAS) is an online resource for women facing separation, particularly where there is violence and abuse. Information includes online safety, emergency contacts, the legal system, recovery and survival.