How Do I File for Divorce in Australia?

Filing for a divorce can be an emotionally wrought and overwhelming experience. Even in the case of straightforward, amicable divorces, the process of lodging a divorce application can feel daunting. To make your life easier, it is recommended that you seek help and support wherever you can. A great place to start is with a simple yet comprehensive breakdown of Australia’s divorce application process. By getting familiar with the stages involved in a divorce application, you can better prepare yourself to take that first step.

Am I Eligible?

Before you begin the application process, you should make sure you’re eligible to file for divorce in Australia. Firstly, either you or your former partner need to have Australian citizenship, or to have legally lived in Australia for the past 12 months. You also need to have a valid marriage certificate.

It is a requirement that you and your spouse have been separated for at least 12 months and a day when you submit your application. The marriage needs to have completely broken down, so that there is no reasonable likelihood that you will reconcile. If you and your spouse have continued to live in the same house after you separated, you may need to provide further evidence that you have lived separately and apart. If you do not know where your spouse is currently located, you will need to upload an application seeking to dispense with service or for substituted service.

If you were married overseas, are currently living overseas, have children under 18 or have changed your name, this will add extra steps to your application. Furthermore, if you and your spouse have been married for less than two years, you will have to attend counselling and obtain a counselling certificate to file for divorce.

If you require assistance or advice in dealing with any of these circumstances, you can always seek guidance from a family lawyer at Duffy & Simon.

What Is a Sole Application for Divorce?

When you apply for a divorce by yourself, you complete a sole application. In this case, you are the only party required to sign the application. Once you, the applicant, have signed the divorce papers, you are required to serve the documents to your spouse, who is known as the respondent. The respondent does not need to sign for the divorce to be finalised. However, if you have children together who are under the age of 18 years, you will have to attend the court hearing and provide information in your application about parenting arrangements.

What Is a Joint Application for Divorce?

A joint application is one you complete with your spouse. In a joint application, one party completes the application and provides a copy to the other party to review and sign. Once the joint application is locked, both parties — who are known as joint applicants — must sign the finalised document. In a joint application, there is no need for anyone to serve documents to anyone else. Court attendance isn’t generally required unless it is requested by one or both parties for a particular reason.

Where to Lodge Your Divorce Application

In Australia, divorce applications are eFiled online using the Commonwealth Courts Portal. This means that before you can file for divorce, you must register for the portal.

Who Can Witness a Divorce Application in Australia?

Once the application itself is completed, the Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce) needs to be signed before a witness. For a sole application, the applicant must sign before a lawyer or a Justice of the Peace (JP). For a joint application, both parties involved need to sign before a lawyer or JP, either at the same time or separately. If you choose to use a Justice of the Peace as your witness, make sure they provide their JP number.

How to Submit Divorce Application

To file for divorce, you need to complete an application, sign it, submit it and wait for it to be granted. There are, of course, additional steps if you’re completing a sole application, or if you need to attend court.

However, the process to submit a divorce application generally begins with registering for the Commonwealth Courts Portal, logging in and starting a “New File”. Tick a box to confirm that you are filing for divorce on your own behalf, then read the eFiling obligations and confirm that you agree with them. You will now need to select “Application for divorce”, where you will choose the appropriate court for your location.

Once this is done, you can add a title and description to your application, select “Create” and “OK” to confirm. Your divorce application has now been saved so that you can return to it at any time. If this application experiences no activity in the 90 days following its creation, it will be automatically deleted.

From this point, you simply answer the questions and upload any documentation required. Make sure to select “Save” at each page and, once you have completed all the steps, “Lock” and “Continue”. Once the application is locked, you will be unable to make any further changes.

You should then print the application and sign the Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce). Upload the signed Affidavit for eFiling Application — you do not need to reupload the entire application — and download the brochure Marriage, Families and Separation, which must be read by all involved parties.

Finally, it is time to submit the divorce application and pay the associated fee. Select a court date and wait for the divorce to be granted and finalised.

What Is the Cost of a Divorce Application?

The divorce application fee in Australia is $940, though you may be eligible to receive a reduced fee of $310.

Looking for More Advice?

Remember, you do not have to go through the divorce application process alone. For advice and assistance on all things family law, contact Duffy & Simon today.