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Expert Opinion Panel
Stephen Page - Lawyer

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Before, during and after

12 do's and don'ts for lesbians splitting up

Stephen Page | Lawyer | 21 May 2013

Lesbian relationship break-up - stock photo

Sometimes there is an assumption that because
a couple have lived together

that each is entitled to half

Sometimes there is an assumption that because a couple have lived together that each is entitled to half. This is not the case: what each partner might get from property settlement will vary, depending on the facts.

To have children while seemingly easy through IVF or known donors can end up a very messy affair.

So here are 12 do's and dont's for lesbians splitting up...


  1. Do

    know what you brought into the relationship in terms of property. Keep records. If you later split up, it will be easier to show your financial contributions- which might mean you get more.

  2. During

  3. Do

    consider legal and counselling advice before having kids. Putting your eggs into her body might seem a great idea- especially as you were the one who desperately wanted kids- until you split up and she is the one who considers herself the sole mother.

  4. Do

    have both names on the birth certificate. This is now possible in all of Australia.

  5. Don't

    use a known sperm donor- unless the boundaries are very clear. There have been numerous cases where using known donors has turned into a train wreck, leading to bitterness and fallout for the poor child at the centre.

  6. Don't

    accept or engage in domestic violence. Studies indicate that domestic violence is at least as common in lesbian as straight relationships. In an emergency phone 000 or the domestic violence hotline in your state.

  7. After

  8. Don't

    be bitter or petty when splitting up. Too often great energy and great sums are wasted on legal fees because one or both parties are bitter or petty.

  9. Do

    remember that you are both the parents of your children, and will continue to be long after this fight is over.

  10. Do

    have a support network. They may all side with your former partner after splitting up, but amazingly you will be able to get new friends.

  11. Do

    have counselling for yourself. This is not joint counselling, which might be a good idea if you have kids. It's always a good idea to have an objective, calm, dispassionate, supportive voice when you are enduring the turmoils of a break up.

  12. Do

    stay fit. If you're not fit, get fit. Keeping fit keeps you thinking positively, always a good feeling during a break up. The combination of oxygen, endorphins and just generally feeling better also helps.

  13. Do

    have a sense of humour. No matter how hard things get, it is vital to remain positive, and see the funny side of life. It will help you get through the problem quicker.

  14. Finally, do

    get good legal and financial advice. Too often people splitting up don't - blundering on in ignorance. A good lawyer is an accredited specialist who won't turn it into World War III, and hopefully is also LGBTI friendly. A good financial planner and a good mortgage broker are also vital.

Stephen Page is an LGBTI friendly lawyer in Brisbane. His first lesbian client was in 1992. Stephen is a partner with Harrington Family Lawyers and is an accredited family law specialist. He is author of the Australian Gay and Lesbian Law Blog:

go to Stephen Page's Biography

Stephen Page is a partner of Harrington Family Lawyers, one of Brisbane's oldest boutique family law firms, and is also a member of the Expert Opinion Panel. Admitted in 1987, Stephen has been an accredited family law specialist since 1996. A co-founder of a domestic violence service, Stephen has been a member since 1999 of a committee for a court based domestic violence service and since 2008 a board member of a charity linking business with the domestic violence more of Stephen Page's Profile here

Read more Australian Lawyer Articles here

This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of This article contains only general information. For advice regarding your own personal circumstances, always seek individual advice from a qualified professional. Read the full Disclaimer here

What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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