Relationship breakdown

Our research expertise

Over the last century many significant changes have occurred in the ways relationship are formed and dissolved. Marriages are occurring at later ages while living together has become increasingly common. The concept of relationship breakdown is also broader than separation and divorce;  it may be a process that can be gradual or abrupt or occur well in advance of any separation.  The pathways that couples take are diverse: they may have trial separations, or trial reconciliations before or after separation, and reconciliation may "work" for a time or permanently.  Given the rise in couples living together outside of marriage, divorce statistics are no longer adequate approximations of separation statistics.  Key focus areas of the Institute's research on relationship breakdown include:

  • separation and divorce
  • post separation parenting
  • child support
  • service pathways for separated families
  • relationship dissolution and re-partnering.

Current projects

Family Trends and Transitions
This project analyses information on broad trends in the patterns of leaving home, couple and family formation, family stability, and relationship dissolution and re-formation.

Past projects

Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments
This project examined the impacts of changes to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in the area of family violence.

Family Pathways
Family Pathways were a series of studies of separated families in Australia. The studies aimed to understand how changes to the family law system affect the lives of separated parents and their children.

Selected publications

Post-separation parenting, property and relationship dynamics after five years
This report for the Attorney General's Department presents findings from Wave 3 of the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families.

Family Relationship Centres: Partnerships with Legal Assistance Services
Family Court Review v. 51 no. 2
This report presents findings from the evaluation of the Family Relationship Centres partnership with the legal assistance services program.

Australian Family Trends No. 3: Working out relationships
This facts sheet focuses on partnership formation, separation and fertility trends in Australia. 

Property and financial matters upon the breakdown of de facto relationships
This report reviews the reforms made to the Family Law Act 1975 regarding financial and property matters for breakdowns in de-facto relationships.

Did you know ...

Over the last 10 years, an average of 50,337 couples have divorced in Australia each year.

(Source: ABS)


Lixia Qu
Senior Research Fellow

Ruth Weston
Senior Research Fellow

Rachel Carson
Research Fellow

Rae Kaspiew
Senior Research Fellow, Family Law

More information

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