An application for divorce may be applied solely or jointly.

The interested party or parties need to file an Application for Divorce with the court and pay the corresponding fees. Upon application, a party may be eligible for reduced fees, but both parties must qualify for the reduced fees. Otherwise, full fees apply. Applications may also be filed electronically through the Commonwealth Courts Portal.

A person can apply for divorce in Australia if he or his spouse:

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

It must be proved satisfactorily to the court that the couple has been separated for at least 12 months and one day before the application for divorce. Under the Family Law Act 1975, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This is called the no-fault principle. The 12 months requirement is like a test period during which parties are presumed to have tried to give their marriage a chance. Hence, the court will no longer be looking into the reasons why the marriage ended. Instead, parties will focus on presenting evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and there is no reasonable likelihood that the parties will get back together.

If there are children below 18 years old, the court will only grant the divorce if appropriate arrangements for them have been provided. If there are no children below 18 years old or if the application is jointly filed, parties need not attend the proceedings.

The parties are required to attend, however, if it is a sole application and there are children below 18 years old. But if there is no Response to Divorce filed by the respondent or another spouse, the applicant spouse need not attend the proceedings.

If a party is unable to attend in person, he may make a written request to the Court that he will attend by telephone. 

Basic procedures in applying for a divorce

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