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Separation Guide: Managing the difficulties of divorce

Divorce or separation is a big step for everyone involved – not only are family arrangements going to change, but also financial ones. We’re here to help guide you through your finances during separation.

April 2021 – 2 minute read

What’s in this article:

  • Divorce in Australia
  • How to get a divorce
  • How separation can impact you
  • Maintaining a smooth separation

Divorce in Australia

Family Court Australia defines a separation as when you and your partner stop living together in a domestic or marriage-like relationship. It is ideal to know the date of separation, as it is important for your divorce application and may be relevant for things like property dispute resolution.

If you or your children are at risk of immediate harm due to domestic family violence, please contact the police – call 000.

How to get a divorce

If you and your partner have decided to go ahead with a divorce, you may want to seek legal advice before proceeding. It is important to know how your finances may be affected and what documentation you need to prepare. You can lodge a divorce application online with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Getting legal advice or a lawyer to sort out the divorce application is essential if you want to know how to protect assets in divorce. This would also be helpful to find out if you will need to receive or provide extra financial support to your partner or child support.

How separation can impact you

Getting a separation or divorce in Australia involves many steps. There will most likely be co-parenting worries, financial and property concerns, and questions around how to fairly split assets. Whether you are de facto or married, you will also have to deal with the emotional toll that the separation will have on your kids or family. If you are stressed or finding this time difficult, please talk to a family member or a professional such as the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321.

Maintaining a smooth separation

The way you communicate with your ex-partner during a de facto separation and divorce can affect the process. When possible, it is important to remain civil and respectful towards your partner and work together on reaching an agreement or resolution. Until proceedings are finalised it is important to maintain responsibilities you had while in the relationship (e.g. paying bills). Open communication with your partner is essential, and it is best to start the legalities sooner rather than later. It may also be beneficial for you to see a doctor or counsellor to maintain good mental health throughout the process.


We have a number of separation support tools that can help you navigate this uncertain time - these includes:

Separation Support Guide (PDF 2MB)

Separation checklist (PDF 84KB)

calculator (XLS 98KB)

You may find these useful

Separation checklist

Use our downloadable checklist to focus on what needs to be done at the outset.

5 key things to do first in a separation

Whether your separation is planned or has come as a surprise, there are 5 things that you should focus on immediately.

Understanding financial settlements

Every divorce is different, so there isn’t a standard ‘rule of thumb’ when calculating how you split assets.

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.