Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by the court. Couples divorce for many reasons, including irreconcilable differences, infidelity, financial problems and abuse. The process can be emotionally and financially devastating for both parties involved and their families, though it’s important to find a way through.
In Australia, divorce is federal law, rather than differing according to state as most other legal proceedings are. This means that there are a set series of steps that couples wishing to divorce in Australia must take. In this blog post, our team of family lawyers have tried to simplify the process by outlining such steps.
Step 1: File for a divorce application
Divorce in Australia usually takes around four to six months from start to finish, however you must be separated from your partner for more than 12 months first.
The first step is to file a divorce application with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The divorce application is completed online and requires you to specify the date you separated from your spouse and provide details of any periods where you and your spouse have reconciled or lived separately under one roof since separation.
You will also need to provide details of the arrangements made for the care of any children under the age of 18 such as time/communication with each parent, schooling, health, and financial support.
Once you have completed the online application, you will need to sign and pay the required filing fee. You will then be provided with a date and time for your divorce hearing which is usually in about two months time.
Step 2: Serve the divorce application
The next step is to serve your spouse with the divorce application. You can do this by providing your spouse with a copy of the divorce application either by post, by hand or by serving your spouse’s lawyer. You cannot serve the divorce application on your spouse yourself, so parties usually engage a professional process server for this purpose.
After your spouse has been served, they have 28 days to respond. Your spouse only needs to file a response if they disagree with facts in the application or do not want the divorce to be granted. Just because your spouse files a response, does not mean that your divorce will not be granted.
Step 3: Appear at the hearing
There are only limited circumstances where you are required to attend the divorce hearing including where there are children under the age of 18 or your spouse has filed a response.
During the hearing, the Judge will look at whether you have complied with all legal requirements and that there are “proper arrangements” in place for any children under 18 years of age. Divorce hearings usually take no more than 5 to 10 minutes.
If the court is satisfied that all legal requirements have been met and that there are “proper arrangements” in place for any children, the Judge will grant the divorce and issue a divorce order. This order becomes final one month and one day after it is issued. Once the divorce order is final, you are legally divorced and can remarry if you wish.
What to ask your lawyer before filing for divorce in Australia?
There are strict requirements and time limits which you must comply with in order to get divorced. Before filing for divorce, it’s best to consult with one of our family lawyers.