Separation and Short Relationships - Dot Legal AU

Separation and Short Relationship

Whether or not a relationship is considered a Short Relationship depends on all circumstances. However, if you have been dating for less than five years with him/her, it could be classified as short-term. When a court orders a division of assets after a short relationship, the financial contributions of the parties are paramount.


Short marriages

If the couple has been married for less than two years, they must receive marriage counseling before applying for divorce. The divorce application must be accompanied by a certificate showing that the marriage agency has discussed the possibility of reconciliation.

In the case of a divorce, the spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months. Couples can live separately even if they live under the same roof.


Short de facto relationships

For unmarried couples, courts can determine that there was a de facto relationship if the parties lived together for at least two years or had children in the relationship.


Separation and Short Relationships - Dot Legal NSW

Asset division after short relationships

Regardless of whether the parties in a short relationship are married or not, the underlying principles of property comparison remain the same. In short-term relationships, assessing what each party brings to the relationship is a compelling consideration when allocating the pool of wealth.


Separation and Short Relationships - Dot Legal Merrayland

Anson & Meek

Anson & Meek’s 2017 family court ruling dealt with property division after five years of marriage.


The Facts

The parties in question were married in April 2008 and separated in March 2013, but since late 2005 the wife considered each other to be in a committed relationship. The parties started living together only after getting married. There were no children from the relationship. However, the parties were planning to have children. These plans led to In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and failed pregnancies, causing great grief to the couple. These first failed pregnancies occurred in mid-2007, before marriage.


Financial Contributions

In mid-2007, the husband purchased farmland on his own name for approximately $1 million. He paid a total of $1.1 million, including stamp duty and attorney fees. The husband owed her $745,000 and paid the rest of her nearly $400,000 out of her savings.

At the time of the trial, the farm was worth approximately $1.7 million. Both parties had roughly equal pension interests, and the husband had interest in land and cash outside Australia, which pre-dates the relationship.


Trial Outcome

During the trial, the husband argued that the court should exclude his property outside Australia so that it would not form part of the property division. The court accepted and followed this course of action. The trial judge ordered an apportionment of the assets (in Australia) of both parties, resulting in 60% going to the husband and 40% to his wife. This meant the husband had to pay his wife her $691,200.




The husband appealed the judge’s decision, arguing that the separation was more than acceptable given the short time they lived together and the significant financial contributions they made. He could not explain why the wife should receive her 40 percent share of her estate, and argued that the trial judge was erroneous in giving her 40 percent of her estate. The results of this trial were disproportionate to the facts of the case.

On appeal, the court held that “where the marriage was short-lived, childless, and the parties’ contributions to property and family well-being were equal from the beginning of the relationship to the time of the trial, the disagreement was determined by the initial financial nature of the parties’ total contributions.” significant contributions in determining gold”.


This case illustrates the importance of identifying the assets each party brings to the relationship, especially in short relationships.


If you require legal advice or representation in relation to short relationships and family law or in any other legal matter, please contact Dot Legal Lawyers.

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