Preparation means seeking advice early

You don’t need to be on the brink of separation to obtain helpful family law advice.  For some couples, the separation process can be over many cautious years, with a great deal of thought and preparation and the need for financial advice. For other couples, of course, it can be very different.

We find that we are more often approached for information by women first,  because of concerns about financial insecurity and find that Australians from other ethnic groups may culturally have more apprehension in seeking help,  and perhaps have fewer information resources to access.  Overseas sole custody laws can also be seen as a powerful deterrent. However, historically, women have initiated more divorce applications in Australia than men.

Mehr – The Dowry – and other cultural and religious dimensions

In addition to the legal aspects, it is important to recognise the cultural and religious dimensions that may influence the separation process. In many Muslim communities, for instance, the concept of Mehr, a mandatory payment made by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage, serves as financial security for the bride.

This concept of financial protection extends into discussions surrounding separation and divorce. Addressing matters such as dowry and Mehr is essential within these communities, ensuring equitable outcomes and honouring religious obligations.

Our team at Phoenix Law & Associates understands the significance of such cultural nuances and can provide guidance that respects both legal requirements and personal beliefs, ensuring a comprehensive approach tailored to your unique situation. (Fatima , Solicitor Bachelor of Law; Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice)

What is Separation?

In Australia separated means you have stopped living together as a couple, and 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, please talk to us about that.

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 one roof, they will consider whether:

  • you sleep together
  • you have sex or sexual activity
  • you share meals and domestic duties (in a different way than when you were married)
  • you share money and bank accounts
  • family and friends think of you as separated.

Both you and your spouse are equally entitled to live in the marital home during separation – ownership of the property is not relevant. Anyone can also leave the marital home during separation, but no one can be forced to.

Therapeutic, permanent and legal separation

Depending on your intentions, relationship therapists will talk about 3 possible states. Firstly, a therapeutic, healing or trial separation – which is temporary and structured time apart, to help a couple heal their broken relationship. The others – a permanent separation; and a legal separation.

Some benefits of a therapeutic or trial separation may be ;

  • Personal Growth: Time apart can foster personal growth and change. This evolution, coupled with a new understanding of oneself and one’s partner, can be a catalyst for reunions.
  • Challenges Ahead: Reunited couples are not exempt from challenges. They must address past grievances, manage external perceptions, realign after personal changes, and navigate the potential complexities of remarriage.
  • Foundations Matter: For a successful reunion, open communication, self-reflection, setting boundaries, and, if necessary, seeking professional counselling are crucial steps.

Divorce statistics.

The traditional expression “ the seven-year itch”, may have some truth as the average length of a marriage, at least in the United States, that ends in divorce is 8 years,  and here in Australia, most divorces happen between year three and year seven of marriage. Just 4% of couples divorce after 10 years of marriage.

One-sided divorce is possible in Australia as long as the couple has been separated for at least 12 months. The crude divorce rate (divorces per 1,000 Australian residents) was 2.2 divorces per 1,000 residents in 2021, up from 1.9 in 2020. It could be estimated that 44% of marriages in Australia end in divorce.

January is sometimes considered “divorce month”, as an enforced time in a challenging relationship without the usual space that work, sports and other activities may bring issues to the fore.  Lack of support and commitment is the most common reason given by divorcing couples. Other concerns may be too many arguments; Infidelity; being married too young; unrealistic expectations; lack of equality in the relationship; lack of preparation for marriage and substance or domestic violence or abuse.

Reunion rates show that between 10 to 15% of separated couples do reconcile, and approximately 6% of divorced couples remarry each other.

Preparing yourself early

As hard as separation or divorce might be, well-informed and supportive non-judgmental legal advice will lessen the emotional burden. A professional third party can help you navigate through the challenges. Often children are involved, and seeing the bigger picture may help minimise the impact on everyone.

Preparing yourself for any eventuality may include seeking mediation and protecting yourself financially by opening your bank account; separating assets or debts, and inventory assets.  We can help with planning and advice, as each person’s needs differ.

Language and Culture matter

Phoenix Law and Associates have compassionate and sensitive Family Law specialists to help you through. To gain a free introductory perspective call Phoenix Law & Associates 1800GETHELP.  We have multilingual lawyers who speak your language and understand your culture – Urdu, Hindi, Pashtu, Farsi, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese – English, Portuguese, and Romanian.

Level 16, 300 Adelaide St, Brisbane City|  #BrisbaneLawyers #Urdu #Hindi #Pashtu #Mandarin #Cantonese #Korean #Japanese #Portuguese #Romanian #FamilyLaw

With thanks; Legal Aid Queensland and Forbes review