Everything You Need To Know About Filing For A Divorce In Australia

The decision to file for divorce is not made overnight. A lot must be considered, from the welfare of your children to who will keep the family home. It’s fortunate that most Australians don’t understand the divorce process, but it can be overwhelming to sort through one if you have to.

To keep things easy to understand during this time, we’ve created this article to walk you through the process of filing for divorce.

How do I apply for divorce in NSW?

Filing for divorce anywhere in Australia can be done online. You will need to submit a divorce application via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. However, certain criteria must be met before you can file for divorce.

Filing for divorce — am I eligible? 

Australia is one of the few countries where a person does not have to provide any reason for filing for divorce. That said, a few eligibility requirements must be met before you can go ahead with your application. You and your spouse must be separated for at least 12 months and live under different roofs. Though you can live in the same household during the separation period, this can make proving the separation date difficult.

If you’ve been married for less than two years, you must also attend marriage counselling to attempt to reconcile the marriage. Once the separation period ends, you can file your application for divorce through the court.

Additionally, to file for divorce, you or your partner must also satisfy at least one of the following:

  • Regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely.
  • Be an Australian citizen by birth, descent or a grant of Australian citizenship.
  • Normally live in Australia and have done so for at least 12 months before filing for divorce.

These requirements also apply to applicants who have been married overseas or whose spouse is currently living overseas.

Once the separation period ends and you have met all these criteria, you can file for divorce on your own or with your spouse.

Sole application

If you initiate the divorce and file the application on your own, you are known as the applicant. The other party, your spouse, is known as the respondent.

It’s important to note that if you file a sole application, you must serve the application on the other party.

Joint application

If you and your spouse have both agreed to get a divorce and are filing your application together, you are known as joint applicants, with one person regarded as applicant one and the other as applicant two.

Gather your supporting documents

To streamline the application process, we recommend gathering all the necessary documents before sitting down to fill out your application on the Commonwealth Courts Portal. Some of the most common pieces of information you will be asked to provide when filing for divorce include:

  • Your marriage certificate
  • Proof of jurisdiction, such as your Australian citizenship certificate, Australian passport or visa
  • Marriage counselling certificate (for marriages less than two years old)
  • An affidavit proving you have been living separately for at least 12 months if you remain living under one roof

Complete the application on the Commonwealth Courts Portal and pay the filing fee

Once you’ve filled out the necessary details and submitted all required documents, your application is complete. You will then be prompted to pay the filing fee. This is typically $990, though discounted rates are available for applicants who own eligible government concession cards or are experiencing financial hardship.

Receive a date and time for the divorce hearing

When your application has been processed, you will receive your hearing details on the Commonwealth Courts Portal. You’ll be able to view the date and time of your hearing, the name of the registrar who will hear and manage your application and how you can attend the hearing.

Divorce hearings are conducted electronically, and attendance is not mandatory unless:

  • You have filed a sole application
  • You have indicated that you wish to attend
  • The Court has advised you, or your spouse has requested you to be there
  • There is a child under the age of 18 at the time of filing

Serve the application if you are filing a sole application

If you have filed a sole divorce application, you are responsible for serving the divorce documents on your spouse by post, by hand or via a process server. If you cannot serve the divorce documents yourself, you will need to apply to the Court for a substituted service order.

Consider getting legal advice

Now that your divorce is officially in motion, you may now want to seek legal representation. In our experience, divorce can be a lengthy and emotionally gruelling process and a decision you do not have to manage independently. A divorce lawyer can provide you with expert counsel and guidance during your divorce, helping you make more informed decisions for yourself and your children.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers is a leading Sydney Family Law firm that specialises across all branches of Family Law. We’ve helped many clients achieve the best possible outcome for their families and have extensive experience working with families from all different backgrounds.

Have your case looked after by one of our qualified divorce lawyers by getting in touch today.

Find out how we can help you

Personalised advice with no obligation
Call us on (02) 9437 0010