Applying for a divorce?
In Australia, you must have been separated for at least 12 months prior to applying for your divorce.
If you and your spouse have separated but remained living under the same roof for any period (or are currently living under the one roof), or if you have been married for less than two years, you should first seek legal advice as there are additional requirements that you must meet.
Preparing your Application
You can apply for the divorce by yourself or you can make the application jointly with your former spouse. Either way, you will need to complete an Application for Divorce form which is fairly straight forward and can be downloaded from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website, which also has a lot of useful information about applying for a divorce and how to complete the application. When you file your application, you will be charged a Court filing fee. The Application for Divorce can also be completed online at www.comcourts.gov.au. Your lawyer will be able to assist you if you have any questions about completing the Application for Divorce.
Your Court Hearing
You must attend your divorce hearing where: you made the Application for divorce yourself; and/or where you and your former spouse have children who are under 18 years of age. If you do not have children under 18, or if you and your former spouse made a joint Application for Divorce, you can both choose not to attend your divorce hearing. What happens at the hearing? Your matter will be one of many divorce applications being heard by the Court that day. When you arrive, tell the Court officer your name and they will note your attendance. You then take a seat in the Courtroom and the Court officer will call your name when your matter is to be heard. Your lawyer can attend the hearing on your behalf if you wish. Divorce hearings are generally quite brief. During your hearing, the Registrar may ask you questions about the information in your application or about the service of the application, if relevant. Where young children are involved, the Registrar may ask about arrangements for the children, such as which parent they live with, how often they spend time with the other parent and how they are financially supported.
If the Registrar is satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been established and that the application has been properly served on the other party (if your application was not made jointly), the Court will grant the divorce. The divorce order will become final one month and one day from the date of the hearing, at which time a Divorce Order will be sent to you and your former spouse (if they have provided their address).
What will a divorce cost?There is a filing fee for divorce applications, in some cases for example if you hold certain government concession cards or you are experiencing financial hardship you may be eligible for a reduced fee.
Can I oppose a divorce application?If you have been separated for more than 12 months, there are few opportunities to oppose a divorce application. You can only oppose the divorce where:
- There has not been 12 months separation as alleged in the application, or
- The Court does not have jurisdiction.
- If you do not want the divorce granted, you must complete and file a Response to Divorce and appear in person on the hearing date.
You need to set out the grounds on which you seek the dismissal in the Response to Divorce. If you file a response, you should attend the divorce hearing. If you do not attend, the Court may decide the divorce application in your absence. If it is difficult for you to attend in person, you may ask the Court to appear by telephone.
When should I file the Response to Divorce?If you want to file a Response to Divorce, you need to file it:
- If served in Australia – within 28 days of the application being served on you, or
- If served outside of Australia – within 42 days of the application being served on you.
- You can electronically file (eFile) a Response to Divorce on the Commonwealth Courts Portal or file it at a family law registry.
Organisations that will provide support during the divorce process.Relationships Australia is a leading provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities who provide support to achieve positive and respectful relationships. Regardless of religious belief, age, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle choice, cultural or economical background they extend their services which include counselling, family dispute, resolution and whole range of services that will provide support and comfort.
You may contact them directly on:
13 11 44
or visit their website