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6 tips to consider when applying for divorce

If you are separated and you’re considering applying for a divorce, you’re probably doing a lot of research around the legal divorce process right now.

Applying for a divorce can be a confusing and emotional journey, whether you’re applying for a divorce by yourself with a sole divorce application or together with your spouse, known as a joint divorce application.

To help provide you with more information about what to be aware of when applying for a divorce, here are some tips to think about.

Visit the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia provides an online resource full of information regarding how to apply for a divorce and all the divorce paperwork that you need to submit.

You don’t need to apply to the Family Court of Australia to obtain a divorce. The Federal Circuit Court is a division of the Family Law Courts and can grant applications for divorce. The process to apply for a divorce is cheaper and quicker through the Federal Circuit Court than applying through the Family Court.

Joint applications allow you to apply for a divorce with your partner

Making a joint divorce application means that both your spouse and you sign the divorce application before filing.

By doing this together, you can avoid the need to serve the divorce application on your spouse and show the Court proof of service. It also means that it is not mandatory for either your spouse or yourself to attend the divorce Court hearing.

However, one or both parties may wish to attend the hearing to ensure you can address any questions should the Court require clarification or have any issues with the divorce application documents that have been filed. Otherwise, your application may be adjourned or dismissed entirely.

How to apply for divorce using a sole application

If your spouse refuses to sign an application for divorce, you can still obtain a divorce order by applying to the divorce Court with you being the sole applicant and your spouse as the respondent.

This means that once you have applied, you will need to serve a sealed copy of the divorce application on your spouse and file documents proving this service has been carried out. Attendance at the divorce Court hearing is mandatory if there are children under the age of 18 years, but not if there are no children of the marriage under 18 years of age.

However, it is still advisable that the person who has applied for the divorceattends the hearing to ensure they can address the Court if there are any issues with  the application.

To apply for a divorce, you need your marriage certificate

Make sure you have an official copy of your Marriage Certificate to submit.

If your spouse has your marriage certificate — which is required to apply for a divorce — you can easily obtain another copy through the Births, Deaths and Marriages registry.

A counselling certificate is required when you’ve been married for less than two years

If you have been married for less than 2 years, you need to file a counselling certificate. The two years is calculated from the date of the marriage to the date of applying to the Court for a divorce.

If this time frame applies to you, you and your spouse must attend an appointment with a counsellor to discuss the possibility of reconciliation before you apply for a divorce.

Visit here for more information regarding this: Factsheet – If you have been married for less than 2 years).

The divorce court filing fees

The current Court filing fee for a divorce in the Federal Circuit Court is around $900 (which can change over time – please check the Court website for the most up to date figure).

However, you may be eligible for a reduced filing fee if:

  • you have a health care card
  • a pensioner concession card
  • a senior’s health card
  • any other card issued by the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that certifies your entitlement to Commonwealth health concessions
  • or have been granted Legal Aid
  • or are receiving youth allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY payments
  • or are under 18 years of age
  • or an inmate of a prison
  • or legally detained in a public institution
  • or are otherwise in financial hardship

However, you should note that to be eligible for the reduced filing fee, if you are filing a joint application, both applicants need to meet the criteria to be eligible for the reduced filing fee (See Guidelines for Reduced Filing Fee for Divorce).


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