Separation doesn’t necessarily lead to divorce but for couples who have been separated for twelve (12) months and feel that their marriage has broken down irretrievably, you can then make an application for divorce.
How do I apply for a divorce?
Basic steps to getting a divorce in Australia
1. Complete an Application for Divorce
You (or your lawyer if you have one) can use the: Application for Divorce Kit
The Application for Divorce Kit includes step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application.
Note: Applications for Divorce (and certain accompanying documents) can now be electronically filed through the Commonwealth Courts Portal (www.comcourts.gov.au).
Swear or affirm and sign the Application for Divorce before a lawyer, Justice of the Peace or other person authorised to witness affidavits in your state or territory.
Make two photocopies of the completed and signed Application for Divorce and any supporting documents.
File, by hand or post, at a family law registry:
- the original and two copies of the Application for Divorce, and
- a copy of your marriage certificate.
You also need to pay a fee or you may be eligible for a fee reduction. You can apply for this by filing an Application for reduction of payment of divorce. Fees are set by regulation and are generally only adjusted every two years. More information can be found under the Fees section of this website, including an explanation of different payment methods.
If you were not born in Australia and intend to rely upon your Australian citizenship as a ground to apply for a divorce in Australia, you must also file a copy of your Australian citizenship certificate, Australian passport or other proof of citizenship.
Applications for Divorce (and certain accompanying documents) can now be electronically filed through the Commonwealth Courts Portal (www.comcourts.gov.au).
5. Receive a hearing date and documents
The Court gives you a file number and a time and date for a hearing.
If you jointly apply, the Court will keep your original Application for Divorce and give you and your spouse a sealed copy of the application and an information brochure ‘Marriage, Families and Separation’.
If you apply on your own, the Court will keep your original Application for Divorce and give you two copies of the sealed application and information brochure ‘Marriage, Families and Separation’.
6. Serve papers
If you applied on your own, you must serve a sealed copy of the Application for Divorce and information brochure on your spouse:
- at least 28 days before the hearing if your husband or wife is in Australia
- at least 42 days before the hearing date if your husband or wife is overseas.
More information can be found in the Divorce service forms and kit under the Forms section of Family Laws Courts website.
7. Attend the hearing
If there is no child of the marriage aged under 18 years, you are not required to attend the court hearing. This applies for both sole and joint applications.
If you have made a joint application and there is a child of the marriage aged under 18 years, neither you nor your spouse are required to attend the court hearing.
If you have made a sole application and there is a child of the marriage aged under 18 years, you must attend the court hearing unless circumstances prevent you from attending. You may be able to attend by telephone.
8. Outcome of hearing
If your divorce application is successful, the Court will grant a divorce order. The order becomes final one month and one day after it is made, unless it is shortened by order of the Court.
Once the divorce order becomes final, the Court will send a divorce order to you and your spouse individually, or to your lawyer if you have one.
Do not assume that the divorce will be granted at the first court hearing. For example, you may be told at the hearing that you need to provide more information.