Relationship Breakdown



Separation is when you and your partner stop living together in a domestic or marriage-like relationship. You and your partner do not need to agree to separation to happen. At least one of you needs to make a decision to separate, act on that decision, then tell the other person. You do not need to do anything in particular for your separation to be legal. The period of separation may be under the same roof as long as you are not living as a couple. You can apply for a divorce only when you have been separated for at least 12 months.


Divorce is the official legal ending of a marriage. Obtaining a divorce order from the Family Court of Western Australia means that your marriage has formally ended and you can remarry.

In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975, establishes the principle of a no-fault divorce, which means the courts do not take into account which partner is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. The only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship, which must be demonstrated by 12 months separation (defined above).

To apply for a divorce, you must complete an Application for Divorce, file it with the Family Court of WA and pay the application fee (you may be eligible to receive a reduced fee). When applying for a divorce, together with your spouse, it is a joint application and you and your spouse are joint applicants. If you apply for a divorce by yourself, you are a sole applicant and your spouse is the respondent.

De facto Relationships and Same Sex Couples

A de facto relationship (including same sex couples) is a relationship where two people live together in a marriage-like relationship, but are not legally married. De facto relationships have been recognized by Western Australian law since 2002. For de facto relationships, the date you separated is the starting date for working out how long you have to settle any property issues you have with your ex-partner, through the Family Court of WA.

More Information:

You can download a Divorce Kit from the Family Court website.

You may also wish to download the brochure Marriage, Families and Separation

De facto Information: dividing property

Married Couples: dividing property

Same-sex parenting

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Other ways to resolve a family law dispute

Legal Assistance:

If you are seeking legal advice or representation, you should check out the Law Society's website.