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A divorce is when you and your husband or wife decide you don’t want to be married to each other anymore. Divorce is a legal process. To get divorced, you have to fill out legal forms and give them to a court. The court then says that your marriage is officially ended.

What is a divorce?

A divorce is when a husband and wife decide that they don’t want to be married to each other anymore. They sign legal papers that say they’re no longer married and that they can marry other people if they want to. 

A divorce is a legal process that has to go through the court system.

Divorce courts in Australia

In Australia, divorces are almost always handled by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. If you were married or live in Western Australia, divorces are handled by the Family Court of Western Australia.

The Family Court of Australia can also handle divorces, but the Federal Circuit Court is cheaper and easy to use.

You don’t physically have to go to court to get a divorce if you don’t have any children under 18 years from the marriage. If you do have children, you don’t physically have to go to court if both you and your husband or wife are applying for the divorce together.

Applying for a divorce

You must have been separated for at least 12 months before you can apply for a divorce. If you’ve been married for less than two years, you also need a certificate from a counsellor that says you’ve thought about trying to get back together.

Australia has a ‘no-fault’ divorce system. This means you don’t have to say or prove that someone behaved badly to apply for a divorce. 

You apply for divorce by filling out an application for divorce. 

You can get the application form from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. When you’ve filled out the form, you can submit the application online, or you can post it and your marriage certificate to the court. The court charges you a fee for putting in a divorce application.

You and your husband or wife can apply together for a divorce, or either of you can apply by yourself.

You can do the application for divorce with or without a lawyer. 

You can apply for a divorce on the Federal Circuit Court website. In Western Australia, go to the Family Court of Western Australia website.

Divorce order

Usually, the court handling your divorce says that you can have the divorce. This is called a divorce order, and it usually becomes official one month after the court makes the order.

The court can refuse to make an order if it thinks that you haven’t fully thought through how you’re going to look after any children under 18 years old from the marriage.

Overseas marriages

If you were married overseas you can apply for a divorce if one or both of you is an Australian citizen or resident or Australia is your permanent home.

The court needs a copy of your marriage certificate. 

If your marriage certificate isn’t in English, you need to get an English translation of the marriage certificate. You also need the translator to give you a special legal document called an affidavit. An affidavit is like a guarantee. In this situation, the affidavit must:

  • state the translator’s qualifications to translate
  • be attached to a copy of the marriage certificate together with the translation
  • state that the translation is accurate and that the attached copy of the marriage certificate is a true copy of the translated marriage certificate.

Opposing a divorce

If you’ve been separated for more than 12 months, there aren’t many situations where you can oppose a divorce. Opposing a divorce means saying you don’t want the divorce or refuse to get divorced. 

If you don’t want the divorce, you need fill out a form called a Response to Divorce and go to court for a hearing.

  • Last updated or reviewed 09-08-2016
  • Acknowledgements The content in this article has been adapted from Peter Fairfield’s Easy Guide to Australian Law, published by New Holland Publishers.