Expert legal advice on separation from Brisbane family lawyers

Key Points

For the purpose of Family Law, separation occurs when one or both people in a marriage or a defacto relationship communicate to the other that he or she considers that the relationship is ended. This event has legal significance, as it may have bearing on:

  • when you can first apply for a divorce;
  • your property settlement case;
  • your spouse maintenance case;
  • your parenting case;
  • when you can apply for child support; and
  • other benefits you receive from Centrelink.

If you are going through a separation and come to see our Brisbane family lawyers, we will recommend that you have some form of support in place. This will ensure that you are able to articulate your goals and concerns, process and understand the legal advice and options we present to you, and make mindful, clear-headed decisions.


Many of our clients come to see us before they separate, so that they can fully understand their rights, entitlements and obligations, as well as how the law operates, and what their options are for reaching a resolution. If you decide to separate, having a strategy in place, knowing your rights and having your end-goals clear from the start will enable you to approach your negotiations in a purposeful, focused and cost-effective manner. Obtaining advice from us is completely confidential. In working through your decision, seeing a counselor or psychologist can help you process your feelings, work through your relationship issues, and assist you to come to a decision. Whether you choose to then separate or remain in the relationship is of course a personal decision. Whatever choice you make, you will be making that choice from an informed position.

We are able to provide advice on pre-separation issues including:

  • urgent financial or parenting issues;
  • access to funds to pay your living expenses;
  • how to let your spouse know you want to separate;
  • how to navigate physically separating from your spouse (who will leave the home? How will the family business operate?);
  • practical steps to protect your legal/financial interests;
  • interim parenting arrangements once you separate;
  • deciding child support arrangements;
  • your financial disclosure obligations (and those of your spouse);
  • ascertaining the family’s financial flow (money in -v- money out);
  • understanding what assets are available to divide;
  • your likely property settlement entitlement; and
  • dispute resolution options.

Pre-separation advice and a strategy can help you:

  • manage issues around separation, particularly if you think this will not be well received by your partner;
  • ensure that your case is not compromised. Decisions at this point in time can have a significant impact on how long it takes to finalise your case and how smoothly things proceed;
  • understand your rights, obligations, entitlements and legal plan so that your matter proceeds smoothly;
  • avoid wasting funds because urgent issues need to be resolved before you can negotiate and finalise your family law case.

At a time where it is understandable that you may feel unsettled, overwhelmed or concerned about your future, knowledge can help you regain a sense of control, and can help you make the best decisions for you and your family.

The end of a marriage or defacto relationship is one of the most grief-inducing and difficult experiences that a person will have in his or her life.

It is normal to be feeling sad, fearful, stressed, angry, overwhelmed, and worried about your future.

We are here to guide you through the legal aspects of your separation, and it is vital that you have a counselor or psychologist guiding you through the emotional aspects of your separation. Having the support and guidance of an experienced counselor or psychologist is important because:

  • people who have professional support are able to better cope with the separation and process their grief;
  • it will equip you with the tools you need to build a positive co-parenting relationship and/or navigate a difficult co-parenting relationship;
  • a counselor can help you gain clarity, stay focused, set personal goals and prepare a strategy to move forward; and
  • a counselor can provide a safe place for you to offload your feelings.

“Going through a separation is not pleasant. O’Reilly Shaw Family Law provided a very efficient and courteous service. Louise walked me through the process and made everything as stress-free as possible. Forms were simple to complete, communication was excellent and the timing was better than I had expected. Costs were all explained clearly and fees were charged honestly. My case was resolved efficiently and cost-effectively. Without question I would recommend O’Reilly Shaw Family Law. Thank you Louise for turning something I was fearing into a much easier and more positive process.”

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