If you feel unsafe or are experiencing any violence, call the police, a domestic violence counsellor or get legal advice.
A divorce is the legal end of a marriage other than by the death of a spouse.
In Australia, a divorce is granted on a no fault basis. This means you don’t need to show to the court who was at fault for the breakdown of your marriage. You only need to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and you have been separated for at least 12 months.
If you have decided to separate from your spouse, it is important that you understand how to apply for or respond to an Application for Divorce.
A divorce is different to a decree of nullity, which is more commonly known as an annulment. A Decree of Nullity is a court order that there was no legal marriage between the parties, even though a marriage ceremony may have taken place. For more information about decrees of nullity, see Nullity (Invalid marriage) on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
Divorce is an entirely separate process from property and maintenance. For more information about property settlements and maintenance, see Finance and property.
If you want to apply for a divorce, you need to file an Application for Divorce. You can file a:
If you and your spouse file a joint application, one person will be applicant one and the other person will be applicant two.
If you file a sole application, you are the applicant, and your spouse is the respondent.
For more information, see Apply for a divorce.
If you have been served with an Application for Divorce you can:
If you agree with your spouse’s Application for Divorce, you don’t have to do anything. However, you should send back the Acknowledgement of Service so the Court knows you received the application.
If you don’t agree with your spouse’s application, you can file a Response to Divorce if you want to:
If you file a Response to Divorce and oppose the divorce, you must attend the hearing.
For more information, see Respond to an Application for Divorce.
If you have filed an Application for Divorce but have changed your mind, you can withdraw your application before the divorce hearing. If you withdraw your Application for Divorce, you won’t be able to get a refund.
If you filed a Response to Divorce and you no longer want to oppose or amend any errors in the Application for Divorce, you can withdraw your response before the divorce hearing.
For more information, see Withdraw your Application for Divorce or Response to Divorce.
It is important that you prepare for your divorce hearing so you can tell the Court about your application and answer the Court’s questions.
You should read the documents that have been filed with the Court and plan what you want to say.
For more information, see Preparing for the hearing.
Whether you must attend the divorce hearing depends on if you:
All divorce hearings are by telephone unless you have asked to attend in person, or the Court orders you to attend in person.
For more information, see Going to the hearing.
A Divorce Order will be made if the Court is satisfied that:
If the Court is not satisfied that all of the above criteria have been met, it will not grant you a divorce.
For more information, including how to get a copy of a Divorce Order, see Divorce order.
A divorce order may be rescinded (cancelled) or appealed in some circumstances.
There are a number of other things you may need to consider when getting a divorce, besides making an application to the Court.
For more information, see After court.