The breakdown of a marriage can be a difficult time not only for both parties involved, but also children and extended family members.
Divorce should always be a last resort - if the relationship can be salvaged, then this is usually recommended over pursuing legal advice to officially separate.
One way to help avoid divorce is to attend mediation or counselling sessions with your partner, which can be arranged through a variety of sources.
There are many organisations that provide counselling services and keep anything that is disclosed during your sessions completely private.
It is usually advised that counselling is attended as early on as possible, otherwise the problems may begin to worsen and reach the point where there is no turning back.
Failing this, the next option is to seek the services of a divorce lawyer.
It is worth noting that a marriage must be shown to have irretrievably broken down and that you and your partner have lived separately for at least the past 12 months.
It is possible for either party to apply to the Federal Magistrates Court for a divorce - although there are certain criteria that must be adhered to.
One of the parties needs to be Australian by birth or by grant of citizenship or have lived in the country for 12 months before filing for divorce.
The court will also need to be satisfied that any children of the relationship have been properly provided for.
Family lawyers will be able to offer specific advice relating to your situation - their expertise will be especially useful if there is any dispute regarding your children.
You may also want to seek legal guidance if there is dispute over financial matters or property, as these can provide strong grounds for contention in the courts.
It is important to remember that you can apply for a property settlement immediately after a relationship has broken down, there is no need to wait 12 months.
Divorce is becoming increasingly common in Australia, with the latest data showing there has been a rise in the number of marriages being dissolved over recent years.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals that in 2010, a total of 50,240 divorces were granted in Australia, marking a rise of 1.6 per cent compared to the previous year.
The 40-44 age group had the highest percentage of divorces granted for males, compared to the 35-39 age group for females.
The average age for divorce in 2010 for men was 28.1 years and 25.6 years for women.
However, the ABS noted that the median age for divorce has been on the rise for the past two decades.