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Move on from your relationship safely and successfully with the Gold Coast’s most experienced separation lawyers.

Separating from your partner is stressful and deeply emotional. It can leave you financially vulnerable, and even expose you to unfair child custody arrangements.

Without the right people guiding you, your past relationship could have a serious impact on your future.

Since 1955, Bell Legal has been helping Queenslanders move on from separations and divorces in the right way. 

We’re the most experienced separation law firm on the Gold Coast, and we have a proven record of safeguarding our clients’ interests – both current and future.

If your relationship is over, we’ll help you move forward.

Legal Separation in Australia

Australia’s family laws are designed to help resolve the legal aspects of family relationship issues. 

This includes the resolution of parenting arrangements and financial/property settlements following separation and family relationship breakdowns.

Australia has a ‘no-fault’ legal system to resolve family relationship disputes, including parenting arrangements, financial matters, and property settlements following the breakdown of a relationship. 

This means neither you nor your partner needs to prove that the breakdown is any particular person’s fault – the Court doesn’t consider it relevant.

Separating as a Married Couple

Divorce is the legal ending of a marriage. After a year of separation, a divorce application can be made by you or your former partner individually, or by you and your former partner together. 

Be aware that the granting of a divorce order doesn’t include any determinations on issues like property distribution, spousal maintenance, or arrangements for children. A divorce order is simply the legal recognition that the marriage has ended.

You should always seek legal advice when separating, regardless of how simple your divorce seems. 

Without a good separation lawyer, you could be left vulnerable to unfair property settlements, spousal maintenance orders, or child custody arrangements.

De Facto Relationship Separation

If you’re seeking a separation from your de facto partner and you haven’t registered your relationship as a civil partnership, you don’t need to go through any separation process.

That doesn’t mean you or your partner can’t apply for property settlements, spousal maintenance, or child custody – you just don’t have to tell the Court you’re separating. 

If you are in a civil partnership and you want to separate, you’ll need to notify the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages

  • Read and understand the rules for ending a civil partnership.
  • Complete, download and print the ‘End a Civil Partnership’ application form.
  • Visit a Justice of the Peace or another authorised person to complete the statutory declaration section of your application form and certify your supporting documents.
  • Attach your certified proof of ID documents.
  • Pay the fee (non-refundable).
  • Submit your application form and supporting documents to the registry of births, deaths and marriages by post or in person.

What Happens to My Children During a Separation?

Separation is often a highly stressful time for children. 

Your children’s reactions and coping mechanisms will depend on their personality, age, maturity, and relationship with you and your partner. 

To help your child or children navigate your separation, visit the FCFCOA’s website.  

Best Practices

When your relationship breaks down, you should immediately try to reach temporary parenting arrangements for your children. 

These temporary arrangements should, ideally, minimise the impact of your separation on their lives, and should also maintain their safety and their relationships with you, your partner, their grandparents, and other relatives.

You should also find an experienced separation lawyer as quickly as possible.

Your partner will probably hire a solicitor too, so it’s important not to be left vulnerable in the early stages of separation. 

Having the right legal team backing you can help you understand and secure your rights.

They may even be able to resolve your separation more effectively through open and respectful communication with your partner’s lawyers.

Getting Legal Advice on Your Separation

Although every person going through a separation should seek legal advice, it’s especially important to do so if any of the following statements apply to you.

You are unsure how separation will impact parenting arrangements, support for your children, financial and real property, superannuation, spousal maintenance, wills as well as joint bank accounts and debts.

You or your children have experienced family violence, and you are considering asking the Court to make an order that your partner be required to leave the home or stay away from you or your children.

You want to prevent your ex-partner from spending your savings or selling property after separation.

You wish to enter into a legally binding agreement with your partner that sets out how your property will be distributed.

You have a prior court order from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia that you need to change.

You have business interests that may be affected by a property settlement.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

An experienced separation lawyer can give you confidential advice about family law, how it will work in your situation and your options to finalise your separation, parenting matters, or property settlement. 

You can also get practical recommendations about the process you need to follow, and potentially avoid expensive, ongoing family court proceedings.

If you and your partner aren’t on good terms, your lawyer can support you, making sure your voice is heard and your rights are protected.

Separation Checklist for Australians

Separation can be a high-stress, overwhelming experience. Make your situation easier by checking off the following before or immediately after separation.

  • Make arrangements for where you (and your children) will live following the separation.
  • Speak to a friend, family member, or a family lawyer about the separation – don’t be afraid to ask for support.
  • Ensure your valuables are kept safe. This includes important documents and passwords.
  • Think about your financial position after separation, and come up with a plan to support yourself.
    • Notify Centrelink of the separation and ask them to advise on any entitlements.
    • Make arrangements to separate any joint finances.
  • Attempt to reach parenting arrangements (even temporary arrangements) with your ex-partner that are in the best interests of your children.

Gold Coast Separation Law FAQs

Romantic relationships are extremely complex, and no-one but you can decide whether you should stay with your partner or separate from them.

With that said, certain situations and behaviours are classed as domestic and family violence. If your partner displays any of the following behaviours, you should strongly consider separating from them immediately. 

  • Regularly verbally abusing you, including name-calling, put-downs, or insults
  • Publicly humiliating you (verbally or physically)
  • Deliberately trying to scare you by acting in a dangerous or violent way
  • Isolating you from friends or family
  • Forcing you to move to a different location without your consent
  • Restricting your access to computers, phones, cars, or money
  • Physically striking, spitting on, choking, stabbing, burning or otherwise hurting you
  • Hurting or threatening to hurt your children or your pets
  • Locking you out of or in certain spaces
  • Depriving you of food, medical care, medication, or sleep
  • Threatening suicide as a means of control
  • Blackmailing you
  • Gaslighting you (denying things happened that did happen)
  • Pressuring or forcing you into sex or sexual acts

If you feel you or your children could be in danger, immediately call Triple Zero (000). If you are experiencing domestic abuse, seek help from trustworthy friends, support organisations, or the police.   

You can read more about domestic violence here

The Court follows specific steps when it decides how to divide property after separation

  1. The Court identifies and values all property from the relationship, including debts. Property obtained before or after the relationship can be included.
  2. It considers what you and your partner have each contributed to the relationship financially, non-financially, and as homemakers. This includes your earnings, savings, contributions as homemaker and parent, and property owned before the relationship began.
  3. The Court takes into account the current and future circumstances of you and your partner, including: whether you and your partner have similar standards of living, your age, your health and capacity for employment; whether you are responsible for the care of your children; whether the relationship has affected your earning capacity; and any other factors that may affect ‘future needs’.
  4. It decides exactly how the property is divided between you and your partner (if your dispute hasn’t been settled by negotiation during the proceedings). The Court will consider the above three steps and divide the property in a manner it considers just and equitable. 

A good way to start this process is to write a list of every asset and liability you and your partner own, and whether these assets and liabilities are owned in separate or joint names. You can give this information to your lawyer, who will use it to defend your rights in court. 

If your partner controls the finances, you may find it difficult to support yourself when you separate. If they provided the majority of the income in the relationship, you might be entitled to receive spousal maintenance from them, in addition to other payment orders like child support.

You can also contact Centrelink to see if you are eligible for financial support. 

A family law separation agreement is legally known as a ‘binding financial agreement’ (BFA). A BFA is a legally binding document that sets out the distribution of the property following separation. 

A BFA isn’t reviewed by a court, but you and your partner are still required to comply with legal requirements in making the agreement. You’ll also need to obtain independent legal advice before signing. A BFA only applies to financial matters.

When you separate from your partner, you should immediately notify Centrelink of your separation, and they will determine if your entitlements have changed. You can do this through your Centrelink account on MyGov, or by filling out the separation details form

Your payment will be at the ‘single’ payment rate if you no longer live with your partner and you can show Centrelink that:

  1. you and your partner are living apart permanently or indefinitely; and
  2. there has been a breakdown of your relationship.

This means only your assets and income will affect your eligibility and payment rate.

If you separate from your partner but still live with them in the same house, you still need to let Centrelink know. You can do this by completing the ‘Separated Under One Roof’ form. If you believe your safety is at risk, your ex-partner does not need to complete this form.

If you feel you or your children could be in danger, immediately call Triple Zero (000).  

A consent order can only be breached if you have a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses include:

  • If you breached the order to protect someone’s health or safety
  • If you didn’t understand that you were breaching the order

If the Court finds you didn’t have a reasonable excuse for breaching your consent order, it can:

  • Order you to participate in a parenting program
  • Compensate the other parent with extra time
  • Make a costs order against you so you pay the other parent’s legal costs
  • Change the existing order (often in favour of your ex-partner)

If you commit multiple breaches or the Court thinks you’re ignoring the order, it can:

  • Order you to pay any expenses incurred by the breach
  • Order you to pay some or all of your ex-partner’s legal expenses
  • Order you to participate in community work
  • Impose a bond for up to two years
  • Fine you
  • Impose a jail sentence of up to 12 months

If you’ve breached an order (or you think your ex-partner has), talk to an experienced family lawyer about your options.

Move forward with expert legal advice.

Book a consultation to find out how our experienced solicitors can support you during separation.

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