Divorce is the formal termination of a marriage. A divorce application is separate and distinct from other applications made in the Family Court, such as property or parenting applications – although you may make these applications at the same time.

In Australia, we have the principle of no-fault divorce. This means that in any divorce application, the Court does not consider the reasons why the marriage has ended. The only necessary ground for a divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

To apply for a divorce, you and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months. You must also show that either or both of the parties to the marriage:

  • regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely.
  • are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or grant of Australian citizenship; or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.

If you have children under 18 years of age, the Court will also need to be satisfied that there are proper parenting arrangements in place.

A divorce application can be made solely or jointly with the other party. You will need to serve the other party with a sealed copy of your application and prove service to the Court before they can make a divorce order.

When you file your divorce application, you will be given a court hearing date. You may not need to attend the hearing, depending on your circumstances. If you have children under the age of 18, you (or your solicitor) will be required to attend.

Once your divorce order is final, you have 12 months to commence property settlement or spousal maintenance proceedings. It is important that you seek legal advice to determine the impact of time limits in the Family Court in your circumstances.