Family Law - How do I apply for a divorce ?
Getting a Divorce
Everyone enters a marriage with the best of intentions. However sometimes marriages break down due to a number of different reasons. According to the most recent report issued by the Australia Bureau of Statistics in 2017, there were 49,032 divorces granted in Australia.
A decision to end a marriage should not be made lightly. It can be an extremely challenging and difficult time in a person's life, and often comes with a heavy emotional strain. More often than not there are children and joint assets that will need to be considered.
What you need to know to apply
Firstly, you must consider if you are eligible to apply for a divorce. To make an Application for Divorce you must meet several criteria as follows:
- You and the other party were lawfully married;
- You and the other party have been separated for over 12 months and have not lived together during this period as spouses for more than 3 months;
- You must regard the marriage as over and believe that there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together; and
- You (or the other party) must either:
- Have been born in Australia or an Australian citizen by descent; or
- Be an Australian citizen by grant of an Australian citizenship or
- Be lawfully present in Australia and plan to continue living in Australia indefinitely. You must have lived in Australia for at least the last 12 months prior to filing and evidence will be required to prove this.
After determining if you are eligible, you will need to apply to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to start the process by filling a Divorce Application. When applying, you can either prepare and file your own application online or you can ask your lawyer to do it for you. When considering this, you also must consider whether you will file a sole Application or jointly with your spouse. If you file a sole Application, you will also need to ensure you serve the documents on your spouse correctly, 28 days prior to the divorce hearing. This is a relatively simple process, however using an experienced family lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.
The filing fee for Divorce proceedings is currently $910*. A reduced fee can be applied if you have a Centrelink card or other concession. Once the Application is filed with the Court you will be allocated a Divorce Hearing date and time. If there are no children of the marriage under the age of 18 years, then you do not need to attend Court for the Divorce Hearing.
If there are any joint assets of the marriage or children under 18 years of age, you may also need to consider commencing the Family Law process in relation to parenting and property matters. This process is more complex and often lengthy; however, your experienced family lawyer can help guide you through this process.
Your family lawyer can also assist you with more complex issues, such as if the marriage occurred overseas, or if the marriage has been less than 2 years in length, or if you have remained living under the same roof as your spouse since separation.
For more information about the divorce application process please visit the federal circuit court http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/how-do-i/divorce/apply-for-a-divorce/apply-for-divorce
*As from 1 July 2019. This fee increases annually in accordance with the Federal Government Regulations.