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Get a divorce in Australia

How to get a divorce in Australia

Step 1

Ensure you meet the eligibility requirements

In order to get a divorce in Australia you must meet the eligibility requirements:

  • the marriage must have broken down irrevocably;
  • you must have made arrangements for the children;
  • you must be able to show you have ceased cohabitation for 12 months;
  • meet the residency and citizenship requirements;
  • you must pay the requisite filing fee; and
  • if married for less than 2 years, you must attend counselling.
Step 2

Prepare and File an Application for Divorce

You can apply to the court for a divorce on your own (Sole Application) or with your former spouse (Joint Application).

If you are applying to get a divorce on your own, only you are required to sign the divorce application. You are required to serve the application on your former spouse. Your former spouse will have 28 days to respond to the divorce application.

If you are filing for a divorce as a joint applicant, both parties are required to sign the application.

To file the application, you must pay the prescribed filing fee and lodge it with the Federal Circuit Court. You must include a copy of your marriage certificate and if applying for a sole application you must prove that you served the divorce application on your former spouse.

Step 3

Attend the hearing

You will need to attend the divorce hearing if you make a sole application and there is a child of the marriage currently under 18. Otherwise, you are not required to attend the hearing

Can I get a divorce in Australia if we are still living under the same roof?

Yes, you can get a divorce if you are under the same roof or have lived together for a portion of the 12 month period after separation. You will need to file supporting affidavits in your divorce application that satisfy the court that you are living separate lives, the affidavit should address:

  • change in sleeping arrangements
  • reduction in shared activities or family outings
  • a decline in performing household duties for each other
  • division of finances; for example, separate bank accounts, and
  • any other matters that show the marriage has broken down; for instance, if you have notified family and friends of your separation.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Australia?

Getting a divorce in Australia can be done within a few months of completing the seperation period.

Average Divorce Time Length

Stage of Divorce

Description of the stage of Divorce

0 – 12 Months Separation Period You must be separated for 12 months before you can apply for a Divorce.
12 – 14 Months Application Period Drafting and filing the Divorce Application with the court can be anywhere from 1 day to 2 months.

The length of the application period greatly depends on whether you are applying for a divorce as a sole applicant or a joint applicant.

A sole applicant is required to serve the application on the former spouse and give them 28 days to respond.

14 – 18

Months

Divorce Hearing Once the Divorce Application has been filed and served with the court, the court will hold a Divorce Hearing to grant a Divorce Order, this is usually within 4 months from the date of the Divorce Application.

IMPORTANT – You won’t be legally divorced until a month and a day after the Divorce Order is made.

Sole Applicants

Once your application is filed, you will need to ‘effect service’ of the application on another party. We use organisations called ‘Process Servers’ whose job it is to find and give people documents. Once they have effected service, they complete an ‘Affidavit of Service’ swearing that they delivered the documents to the other party. The affidavit will then need to be filed with the Court. This is what is called ‘Proving Service.’

Joint Applicants

Yes, both parties can apply together. This is called a ‘Joint Application for Divorce.’ This makes things a lot easier (if your former spouse will agree).

Property Issues

Once your divorce takes effect (a month and a day after the court makes the divorce order), you have 12 months to resolve your property matters with your former spouse. If you leave things beyond this date, you might be ‘statute barred’ from bringing an application to determine property issues.

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