Application for Divorce in Australia

You probably heard the news about Bill Gates and his wife filing for divorce recently, but did you know that almost 50,000 divorces were granted in Australia in 2019? This figure is quite substantial given than just over 100,000 marriages were registered in the same period.

Divorce is the legal end of the marriage between two spouses. Deciding to divorce is arguably one of the most difficult decisions that a person has to make, but the application process does not have to be. This article will go through the two essential preliminary issues you need to consider and the application process.

Issues before applying for divorce

Before applying for divorce, you should consider who gets what, that is to determine how the matrimonial pool of assets is divided. Another issue that must be resolved prior to a divorce application is the children’s future. The Court may not grant a divorce if the parties have failed to make appropriate arrangements for the children such as child support, accommodation and supervision. These two issues can be complex, and you should contact a family law lawyer for legal advice.

The application process

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the Federal Circuit Court has the power to deal with all divorce applications. Divorce applications must be filed online unless the parties are in a same sex relationship. An application fee of $930.00 (FY20/21) also needs to be paid. However, if payment of the full fee would cause you financial hardship then you may be qualified for a reduced application fee of $310.00 (FY20/21). You can either apply for divorce by yourself or together with your former partner. Each option has different formalities.

The one and only ground for divorce is ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’. To prove to the Court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down:

  1. You and your partner must have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months; and
  2. There is no reasonable chance of getting back together.

If you can prove the above in Court, then a divorce order will be made and be effected one month and one day later. The Court will not acknowledge allegations of fault such as cruelty, adultery and desertion as a ground for divorce.

Furthermore, at the time of application, either spouse must be an Australian citizen, or domiciled in Australia or an ordinarily resident in Australia.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Australia?

At least 16 months from the date of separation, which starts on the day after one spouse considered the marriage to be broken down and imparts this fact to the other. At filing your Application for Divorce, you will be able to select a listing date for the Divorce Hearing from a range of available dates. Hearings are normally listed in 2 to 3 months’ time from the date of filing. The length of time can increase due to the other party’s opposition to a divorce application or issues with serving court documents to the other side.

Conclusion

Overall, applying for divorce is a lengthy and complex process with many issues to consider including the distribution of family assets and the children’s future. Over the past decade, the Court has streamlined the procedure and converted it online for ease and efficiency. If you are thinking about divorce and want to discuss your options, feel free to contact our team of family law lawyers for a consultation.

Disclaimer: This publication is general information only and does not purport to provide legal advice. We do not accept responsibility for any losses for reliance upon this publication.

Domestic Violence during the COVID-19 pandemic: Raising Awareness and Providing Assistance

With an increase in working and studying from home, together with the restriction of social activities outside of the home and closure of many non-essential services due to social distancing measures, there have been concerns expressed that these restrictions will inadvertently lead to an increase in domestic or family violence within the family home, whether this is in the form of acts of physical abuse, sexual assault, or psychological harm against adults and/or serious neglect of children. There is a greater concern, that persons experiencing domestic or family violence may be further apprehensive in seeking assistance from community organisations.

The Federal Government has announced additional measures to help persons experiencing domestic or family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic by raising awareness through its Help is Here Campaign as well as providing extra funding to the Salvation Army and the Men’s Referral Service as a part of its Domestic Violence Support Package.

Help is Here Campaign

The Help is Here campaign aims to raise awareness to promote that violence and abuse against either women or men are never acceptable in our society, regardless of whether are people feeling an increase in stress or anxiety, or families are experiencing new financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign broadcasts this message to the community through a variety of media and print services, providing the contact information for the two key national services, which are in operation at all hours:

1. 1800RESPECT (tel: 1800 737 732) and www.1800respect.org.au

2. MensLine Australia (tel: 1300 789) and www.mensline.org.au

Through accessing either of the two national telephone services, persons are then directed to appropriate help by trained staff.

Salvation Army’s Keeping Women Safe in their Homes for its Safer in the Home program

This program aims to keep women and their children, who have experienced violence, in the family home, where it is safe and appropriate to do by implementing additional measures, such as installation of alarms, security screens and locks, conducting sweeps and de-bugging of cars and homes and phone security breach scanning.

The Federal Government’s grant of additional funding to this program will provide access to the service for up to 200 more women. Women accessing this service will be able to engage the Salvation Army to conduct home safety audits, risk assessment and safety planning, as well as home security upgrades.

Contact: Domestic Violence Line (tel: 1800 65 64 63)  https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/need-help/family-and-domestic-violence/find-help-for-domestic-violence/#sith

If you are experiencing domestic or family violence, please seek urgent help from any of the appropriate community organisations available to you.

For emergencies, please contact the police (Tele: 000).

Source: Minister for Families and Social Services, Media Releases 3 May 2020 and 7 May 2020.

Disclaimer

This publication is general information only and does not purport to provide legal advice. We do not accept responsibility for any losses for reliance upon this publication.