Summary of Episode 3: Divorce

Hello, and welcome to our Family Law Q&A series with Natalie Fielding, Accredited Family Law Specialist at Lewis Holdway Lawyers.

What are legal grounds for divorce in Australia?

In Australia, we have "no fault" divorce so it doesn’t matter why the relationship ended.  You just need to be separated for a period of one year and one day before you can apply for a divorce. If you have been married for less than two years, you will also need to have counselling before you can apply for a divorce.

What are the main legal steps involved in getting divorced? Where do you apply?

Divorce applications are filed in the Federal Circuit Court in every state or territory in Australia, except for Western Australia where they are filed in the Family Court of Western Australia.

Do you need to physically go to Court personally at any time during the process?

No, you don’t, but someone must go for you if you have children under the age of 18. Where there are no children under the age of 18, no one has to attend Court for the Divorce Hearing however we do recommend that people attend their Divorce Hearing as it is part of the healing process for you as you deal with the end of your relationship. You were both there at the beginning of the marriage and it is therefore good for you to be there at the end and have some closure.

How long does the process typically take from the time of filing for divorce to becoming officially divorced?

Once the application is filed, it is generally listed in around 6-8 weeks depending on the Court’s availability. Currently in Melbourne, it could take up to 6 months for your Divorce Hearing to be listed, but just recently one of our cases in Sydney was listed for just over 4 weeks’ time.

How much does a divorce cost?

We charge a fixed fee for a divorce application process and we are happy to discuss that further with you.

The filing fees for a divorce are the most expensive filing fees of the family law process, from a Court perspective - $865 for people without a health care card and $290 for people with a health care card.

How do you know when it’s all finalised?

One month and one day after the Divorce Hearing, a certificate of divorce will be issued to us and we will provide that to you and, once you get that, you are free to get married again if you wish!

Can you object to a divorce, if your ex-partner wants to get divorced but you don’t?

Yes, you can, but you need to ask yourself why you would want to do that. If the other person wants a divorce, it’s highly improbable that they are going to try and reconcile with you if you file an objection to their divorce application.

Sometimes you might challenge aspects of the divorce application, for example if a date is wrong in the application or the period of separation is incorrect or the period that you lived under the same roof is incorrect. Those things can impact your property settlement and so therefore you might wish to challenge those if they are wrong.

Any advice given in this Q&A series is of a general nature only and is not intended to represent or replace legal advice tailored to your personal circumstances.

If you want to seek advice about your situation, call Lewis Holdway Lawyers on 03 9629 9629.