Divorce & Separation: When Should I Speak to a Lawyer?

However, navigating the murky waters of divorce and separation is no easy feat, and that’s exactly why family law plays a vital role in ensuring the longevity of your family unit well after separation and divorce occur.

Read on for more information on how family law lawyers can support you and your family in making sound decisions during the process of divorce.

To answer any questions you may have about the process

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be seeking a divorce before meeting with a family law lawyer. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you speak to a lawyer if you are even just curious about the process of divorce or separation, as you’ll be guaranteed to receive the most professional and unbiased information. Be sure to come prepared with any questions that you may want answered so that you’ll absolutely get the most out of your initial consultation.

This initial consultation is also a great opportunity for you to ascertain the costs involved with this process so that you can decide on your own terms and in your own time as to whether or not divorce or separation are the right decisions for you and your family.

Prior to separation

Separation in itself can be just as messy as a divorce, specifically because it still entails dismantling the family home alongside a small division of assets. Family lawyers can help you and your family outline the nature of your separation. 

In Australia, a married couple must be documented as having been legally separated for twelve months at minimum to be eligible to formally file for divorce. Of course, all family environments are unique and complex, and so it’s not necessary to dismantle the family home during this period of separation, as you can legally be separated ‘under the one roof’. Regardless of what separation looks like to you and your family, you will still need to consult your own family law lawyers as well as undergo family mediation or family dispute resolution to resolve any domestic disputes that may arise during your period of separation.

To formally file for divorce

As stated earlier, any married couple is eligible to formally file for divorce following twelve months of legal separation. At this point, both parties would have their own family law lawyers and may even have seen some litigation if there were complex circumstances surrounding child custody and other arrangements that needed to be made for the legal separation to take place. When it comes to drafting the preliminary paperwork needed to file for divorce, most couples already have a good understanding of what they want their family dynamic to be in the long-term and following the finalisation of the divorce. In fact, if you and your partner maintain perspective throughout your process of divorce, your family is actually likely to find that they will thrive in this new arrangement. Any family lawyer can tell you that there are always benefits to divorce that are worth persevering for. 

If you don’t have a clear picture of what you want life to look like post-divorce or what you believe may be best for your family, then rest assured your family lawyers, as well as your family conflict mediators, can assist you and your partner in fine-tuning any co-parenting plans and other delicate arrangements.

Even without the mandatory twelve months of separation, formally filing for divorce can be a lengthy process, and it becomes doubly complicated by organising child custody agreements, dividing shared assets, and other arrangements that may be specific to your family (i.e. navigating prenups). It’s not surprising that the median age of Australian citizens at the time of both separation and divorce are going up (according to the ABS). This is never a step that families take lightly, and your family lawyer will remind you of this fact throughout this process, ensuring that you and your partner maintain perspective and prioritise the family’s best interests at every given turn.