Victoria Legal Aid

Divorce, separation and marriage annulment

The legal processes of ending a marriage or de facto relationship.

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Note that the law is changing on 6 May 2024. We will update this content closer to 6 May 2024.

If you are concerned about your own situation and whether these changes might affect you, please contact us.

Separation is when you and your partner stop living together in a domestic or marriage-like relationship.

Your partner does not have to agree to the separation, however they need to know that you think the relationship is over. There are no legal processes to become separated.

Divorce is the official ending of marriage. You must satisfy the court that:

  • you and your spouse have been separated and lived apart for at least 12 months
  • there is no chance of reconciling your marriage.

Annulment happens when a judge decides that there was no legal marriage.

Getting a divorce or having a marriage annulled does not sort out issues relating to children or property. These arrangements must be made separately. You do not need to be divorced or to have had your marriage annulled in order to make these arrangements. For more information see Parenting arrangements and child contact.

The law encourages you to try to sort out your issues using family dispute resolution. If you cannot agree on arrangements about property or children, you may end up going to court.

Laws about division of property and financial maintenance apply to married couples and to de facto relationships that ended after 1 March 2009.

More information

De facto relationships

Dividing your property


Family dispute resolution

Financial maintenance for partners

Marriage annulment

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for relationships.

Publications and resources

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 04 April 2024

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