Divorce in Australia

To apply for divorce in Australia the only requirement is that you have been separated for twelve months as at the time you sign the Application for Divorce.

What is the process for
divorce in Australia?

Australian divorce law changed years ago, in 1975, from the old fault-based system where people who were separated had to provide a reason to persuade the court to grant their divorce. This used to include things like infidelity and desertion.

These days you just have to fill out an Application for Divorce which gets filed with the Federal Circuit Court showing that you have been separated for at least twelve months at the date you sign the divorce application. This means, for example that if you separated on 5 May 2019 you can sign your divorce application on 6 May 2020. Divorce in Melbourne is the same as in the rest of Australia, as family law is federal (with slight differences in Western Australia). This means that Melbourne family lawyers can also help people from around the country.

Divorce does not have to be applied for as soon as you have been separated for twelve months and some people wait for many years.

If you apply for divorce within less than two years from the date of your marriage you and your spouse need to obtain a certificate from a counsellor to say that you have considered the possibility of staying together and once you have that certificate you can then make the application for divorce. As family lawyers, we can of course assist you with that process.


Information that you would need to provide to us for the Application for Divorce form includes:

  1. Date and place of your marriage;
  2. Date of separation;
  3. Dates of birth of you and your spouse and any children;
  4. Details of any child support paid;
  5. Details of where the children spend time;
  6. Date you came to Australia if you are not an Australian citizen.

We also need a copy of your marriage certificate as that needs to be filed with the court.

You can apply for divorce
jointly or separately

You and your spouse can either apply for divorce jointly or you can make the application yourself. If the divorce application is made by just one person then the Application needs to be served on the other spouse by an independent third party.

There is a fee to the court for the application, which is currently $910 full and $305 if you have a Centrelink card.

When you file the application with the court you need to provide the court with evidence that the application has been served on your spouse and received by them.

In order to approve the application, the court needs to be satisfied:

  1. That you were married;
  2. That one of you is domiciled in Australia (it is your permanent home);
  3. That you were separated for twelve months at the date the application was signed;
  4. That proper arrangements have been made for the care of your children.

Divorce is simply the legal ending of the marriage. You do not have to wait to divorce to consider the other issues that arise from separation such as:

  1. Dividing your assets and preparing a financial agreement or
    consent orders;
  2. Sorting out time with your children;
  3. Spousal maintenance;
  4. Child support;
  5. Intervention Orders.

All of those issues can be dealt with immediately after separation and long before you apply for divorce if you want to.

Divorce Fixed Fees

  1. Joint application $950
  2. Sole Application $1500
  3. Joint application if separated under one roof $1,750
  4. Sole application if separated under one roof $2,200
  5. Optional/Bolt on – Attending and representing you at the
    divorce hearing $450

The fixed fee does not include GST or the court filing fee of
$910 which are additional

Property Settlement timelimits

Under Australian family law the requirement is that if you have not already divided your assets by the time you divorce, you then have twelve months from the date of your divorce to either resolve your property settlement or to make an application to the family courts.

If you have been in a de facto relationship you have two years from the date of your separation to either resolve your property settlement or to make an application to the court.

As your family lawyer, we can help you consider when will be the best time to deal with all of the issues arising from your separation to enable you to start your new life.