Divorce Process

At ConnectLaw we think family law should be accessible to everyone and that technology should be used at every opportunity to keep legal fees down.

We have deconstructed the steps in family law applications so you can get a good understanding about your divorce.

If you would like to start an Application for Divorce, please contact us. Online application form is coming soon!

Take a look at our FAQ if you have any questions about the divorce process, or contact us directly.

Process FAQ

Divorce Process in Detail

Step 1 – Determine eligibility

The only ground for divorce under the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act) is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. That is, there is no reasonable likelihood that you and your spouse will get back together.

Have you been separated long enough?

You and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months in order to satisfy the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. You must wait at least one year and one day from the date of your separation before signing and filing an Application for Divorce. Find out more about what separation means.

A divorce order will not be made if the court is satisfied that there is reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.

Have you been married long enough?

Ordinarily, you must be married for at least two years from the date of your marriage to the date you make the divorce application to be eligible for a divorce.

If you have not been married for at least two years from the date of your marriage to the date you make the divorce application you will need to either:

  • Obtain a certificate from a counsellor stating that you have attended counselling with your spouse and discussed the possibility of reconciliation. You will need to file this certificate with the divorce application; or
  • Apply for an exemption from the counselling requirement. To do this you will need to file an affidavit outlining the reasons you have not attended counselling.
How can we help?
​Sometimes one person in a marriage thinks their marriage has broken down irretrievably, but the other partner does not agree. We know what the court requires in this situation. We can also assist with reasons for not attending counselling if you require an exemption from this.

Step 2 – Complete an application for divorce ConnectLaw Logo

We have developed a user friendly online system that only asks you questions that are relevant to your situation. We then take this information and complete your application for you.

If you are applying for the divorce on your own, you are making a Sole Application.​
It you are applying for the divorce with your spouse, you are making a Joint Application.

How can we help?
Because we have done this many times, we avoid common mistakes that are often made by people doing it for the first time. We can also explain what the questions mean and what to do if you are unsure of the answer.

Step 3 – Sign the application for divorce before an authorised witness

Once we have completed your divorce application, you must swear or affirm and sign the Application for Divorce before a lawyer, Justice of the Peace or another person who is authorised to witness affidavits. See the complete list here.

Once you have signed the Application for Divorce and any supporting documents, you can email, post or drop them back them to us.

Step 4 – File the application for divorce ConnectLaw Logo

Filing means lodging your Application for Divorce and other documents at the Court. It must be done online via the Commonwealth Court Portal. We do this for you.

You will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. Find out how to obtain a copy or what to do if your marriage certificate is not in English.

How can we help?
We have ComCourt registration and we make sure your application has all the information required and file it for you. In case of any problems, the court will contact us, not you, and in most cases we can rectify the problem without delay and without the need to contact you.

Step 5 – Receive a hearing date and sealed copy of the application ConnectLaw Logo

The Court will provide a file number and a time and date for the hearing. The two photocopies of the Application for Divorce that you provided will be sent back with the original Court seal stamped on them. These copies are known as sealed copies of the Application.​

Step 6 – Serve the documents on your spouse ConnectLaw Logo

Serving documents is the process of delivering or posting sealed Court documents to the necessary people after they have been filed. This is to ensure that each person involved has received the documents that have been filed with the Court.

If you have made a Joint Application, you and your spouse each keep a sealed copy of the Application. We will email the documents to your spouse.

If you have made a Sole Application, we will arrange to serve the following documents on your spouse:

Find out what happens if your spouse cannot be located.

Step 7 – Attend the hearing ConnectLaw Logo

If there is a child of the marriage and you have made a Sole Application, you must attend the hearing.
If there is a child of the marriage and you have made a Joint Application, then you don’t have to attend the hearing.

If your spouse has filed a Response to Divorce because they wish to oppose the Divorce, then they must attend the hearing. Find out more about Response to Divorces.

If it is difficult for you to attend in person, you may ask the Court to attend by telephone. You must request in writing a hearing by telephone if you are unable to attend because of reasons such as distance from the Court or incapacity.

How can we help?
​We can attend the hearing with you. If we have prepared your application, it will take much less preparation time and money than hiring a lawyer at the last minute.
​We can advise if the Court will allow you to attend by telephone and apply for this on your behalf.

Step 8 – Receive divorce certificate

After the hearing of the divorce you will receive a copy of your divorce certificate in about a week.

It takes one month and one day after the date of your divorce hearing for the divorce to take effect (become final). You should not look to get remarried until after that time.

In some circumstances the court can reduce that length of time it take for the divorce order to become final. This requires a specific application with the Court and you will need to argue why you require the time reduction.

How can we help?
We can draft your application for you. We present your argument in the best possible way so that the likelihood of the Court agreeing is greatly increased.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the filing fees for a divorce?
The filing fees for a divorce are set by the family court and can be found on their website.
Am I eligible for a reduce filing fee?
You may be eligible to pay a reduced fee. You will be eligible for this reduced fee if:
  • you are the primary card holder of a Health Care Card, Health Benefit Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or any other card issued by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that entitles you to Commonwealth health concessions;
  • you are receiving Legal Aid, Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy payments;
  • you are an inmate of a prison or otherwise legally detained in a public institution; or
  • your circumstances have changed since you paid your filing fees and you now qualify under one of the above categories.
If you are making a Joint Application, both you and your spouse must qualify under one of the above categories in order to be eligible for the reduced fee. You can apply to pay a reduced fee by filing an ‘Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity – general’.
Reduced Fee based on financial hardship
If you do not qualify for a reduction of fees under one of the above categories, you may still be eligible for a reduction on the basis of financial hardship. For an approval of a fee reduction on this basis, you will need to show that your income, day-to-day living expenses, liabilities and assets are at such a level that payment of the full fee would cause you financial hardship.
What if I have children?
If you and your spouse have children under the age of 18, you will need to show the Court that proper arrangements have been made for their care, welfare and development, or alternatively, demonstrate to the Court that the divorce should be granted even though such arrangements have not been made.
A child is considered to be of the marriage if he or she was:
  • born to you and your spouse (regardless of whether they were born before the marriage or after separating);
  • adopted by you and your spouse;
  • treated by you and your spouse as a member of the family (eg. a foster child or step-child).
In the Divorce Application, you will need to provide the following information for each child of the marriage under the age of 18:
  • the person(s) who lives, spends time and communicates with the child;
  • the person(s) who financially supports the child; the health of the child;
  • the education of the child.
If you do not know this information because, for example, you do not live with the child, you must attempt to find out the information by contacting the person that the child does live with. If you still cannot find out this information, the Court is likely to ask you what attempts you have made to find out this information and so we suggest that you write down the details of any attempts that you have made. For example, write down the day and time that you made the telephone calls and details of any message that you left.
The following is an example of how you might complete the information required:
  • Time and communication with the child - Jack lives with his mother and spends time with his Father on each alternate weekend from 5pm Friday to 5pm Sunday. Jack spends half of his school holidays with his father.
  • Financial support - The Wife receives $100 a week (as assessed by the Child Support Agency) from the Husband. The Wife is otherwise able to support Jack through the income she receives from her employment.
  • Health - Jack is in good health, although suffers intermittently from tonsillitis.
  • Education – Jack is in Year 9 at Cheltenham High School and is obtaining good academic results.
Note: The granting of a divorce does not decide issues about property and maintenance or parenting arrangements for your children. If you want to make arrangements about these issues you can:
  • make an agreement with your spouse and file it with a court, or
  • seek orders from a court, where you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement.
What does separation mean?
Under the Act, separation means the end of cohabitation between you and your partner. It makes no difference who caused the end of cohabitation, or if one spouse did not want to be separated.
It is possible for you and your partner to have been separated even if you have lived under the same roof and provided household services to each other, so long as you have been living separately and apart.
How do we prove we have been living separately and apart when we have been living under the same roof?
To satisfy the Court that you and your spouse have been separated you will need to file an affidavit outlining your living arrangements and demonstrating that you were separated despite living under the same roof.
If you are making the application on your own (Sole Application) you will need to file two affidavits:
  1. One affidavit sworn or affirmed by yourself; and
  2. One affidavit sworn or affirmed by an independent person covering the same or similar information as your affidavit.
If you are making an application with your spouse (Joint Application) both you and your partner need to file an affidavit. It is recommended, although not essential, to also have an independent person file an affidavit in a Joint Application.
What happens if we reconcile and then separate again?
If you have reconciled with your spouse for more than three months, then you will need to start the separation period again, meaning you will need to be separated for a further 12 months before applying for a divorce.
If you have reconciled for less than three months, then you don’t need to start the separation period again, but the time that you were reconciled will not count towards the 12 month separation period. For example, if you have been separated for 6 months and get back together for two months, there will still be a 6 month separation period required following the two months of reconciliation.
What if we haven’t been married for at least 2 years?
If you have not been married for at least two years from the date of your marriage to the date you make the divorce application you will need to:
  • obtain a certificate from a counsellor stating that you have attended counselling with your spouse and discussed the possibility of reconciliation. You will need to file this certificate with the divorce application; OR
  • apply for an exemption from the counselling requirement. To do this you will need to file an affidavit outlining the reasons you have not attended counselling.
What is the difference between a sole vs joint application?
If you are making the application by yourself, you are making a Sole Application.​ You will need to serve the application and any supporting documents on your spouse
If there is a child of the marriage under 18 years old and you are making a Sole Application, you will need to attend the divorce hearing. Your spouse can choose to attend also.
If you are making an application together with your spouse, you are making a Joint Application. You do not need to serve the application on your spouse and you do not need to attend court, even if there is a child of the marriage under 18 years of age.
Where can I get a copy of my marriage certificate?
You will need to provide the Court with a copy of your marriage certificate. If you were married in Australia you can get replacement copies by contacting the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the capital city of the state where you were married.
If you cannot get a copy you will need to prepare an affidavit and file it with the Court. The affidavit needs to explain the details of your marriage and the reasons why you cannot get a copy of your marriage certificate.
What do I do if my marriage certificate is not in English?
If your marriage certificate is not in English, you need to file:
  • ​an English translation of it, and​
  • an affidavit from the translator which:
    • states his or her qualifications;
    • attaches a copy of the marriage certificate;
    • attaches the translated marriage certificate;
    • states that the translation is an accurate translation of the marriage certificate; and
    • ​states that the attached copy of the marriage certificate is a true copy of the marriage certificate translated
Who can witness divorce applications?
The following are people authorised to witness applications and affidavits:
  • legal practitioners;​
  • members of the police force of or above the rank of sergeant or for the time being in charge of a police station;​
  • judges or judges associates;​
  • justices of the peace or bail justices;
  • the prothonotary or a deputy prothonotary of the Supreme Court, the registrar or a deputy registrar of the County Court, the principal registrar of the Magistrate’s Court or a registrar or deputy registrar of the Magistrate's Court;
  • members or former members of either House of the Parliament of Victoria or the Commonwealth; and
  • public notaries.
What if I cannot locate my spouse?
If you are having difficulty serving the divorce application on your spouse, you must show the Court that you have taken all reasonable steps to serve your spouse. If you have made all reasonable attempts to find your spouse, you can apply to the Court for:
  • Substituted service - A court order that allows you to serve court documents on a third person, who will bring them to your spouse’s attention; or
  • Dispensation of service - A court order that excuses you from serving court documents on a party.
Do I need to attend the hearing?
If there is a child of the marriage and you have made a Sole Application, you must attend the hearing. If there is a child of the marriage and you have made a Joint Application, then you don’t have to attend the hearing.
If your spouse has filed a Response to Divorce because they wish to oppose the Divorce, then they must attend the hearing.
What if I can't attend the hearing?
If it is difficult for you to attend in person, you may ask the Court to attend by telephone. You must request in writing a hearing by telephone if you are unable to attend because of reasons such as distance from the Court or incapacity.
Is it possible to oppose an Application for Divorce?
There are few opportunities to oppose an Application for Divorce. A divorce can only be opposed where:
  • There has not been 12 months’ separation between you and your spouse as alleged in the application; or
  • The court does not have jurisdiction.
If there is reason to oppose an Application for Divorce on these grounds, the person wishing to oppose the Application must:
  • Complete the form Response to Divorce (setting out the grounds upon which the dismissal is sought); and
  • appear in person on the hearing date (arrangements can be made to attend by telephone if necessary).
When will my Divorce Order become final?
If your application for divorce is successful, the Court will make an order ending the marriage and send you and your spouse a Certificate of Divorce. Your divorce will become final one month and one day after it is made (unless this time is shortened by the Court). In special circumstances, an application can be made to change the date on which the divorce will take effect.
When can I remarry?
You can marry again after the divorce order has taken effect – one month and one day after the divorce is granted.
If you intend to remarry, you must give the marriage celebrant a Notice of Intended Marriage at least one month before your wedding date and comply with other requirements of the Marriage Act 1961. As soon as the divorce order is granted, the marriage celebrant may accept the Notice of Intended Marriage. You must show a copy of the divorce order to the Marriage Celebrant before the wedding can take place.
What is the difference between the Federal Family Court and the Family Court of Western Australia?
All states and territories in Australia, except for Western Australia, referred family law to the Commonwealth. This means that the Commonwealth makes and administers family law for all states except Western Australia, which deals with its own family law.