Application for Divorce – What is the process for getting a divorce?

If you are thinking about applying for a divorce, it is helpful to understand the steps involved in making an application for a divorce. Knowing the procedural requirements and overall process can help manage expectations.   


What is a divorce?  

A divorce is the official legal end of a marriage.  

What is required to get a divorce?  

Legally, the only requirement is for there to be an ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of the marriage.  

Which court grants divorces?  

The relevant Court which grants a divorce is the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia through the Family Law Act 1975 Part V1.  

What doesn’t a divorce do? 

While a divorce order officially recognizes the official ending of a marriage, it does not determine:  

  • Financial Support  
  • Property Division  
  • Parenting Arrangements 


  1. PRIOR TO MAKING APPLICATION: Ensure Separation Period is 12 months  

Applying for a divorce can only begin once you and your spouse have been separated or have been living apart for at least 12 months.  

If you have been separated but still been living under the same roof, you may still be able to apply for the separation, however you will need to show that:  

  • You and your spouse are living separate lives  
  • This type of proof may include:  
  • Separate sleeping arrangement 
  • Separation of financial arrangements 
  • Notification to friends and family of separation 
  1. PRIOR TO MAKING APPLICATION: Ensure you have a connection to Australia  

If you are intending to make an application for divorce, you or your spouse must have a connection to Australia.  

This means that either of you must be an Australian citizen, an ordinary resident of Australia or have been residing in Australia for 1 year prior to the date of filing for a divorce.  

  1. Prepare Supporting Documents  

Prior to applying for a divorce application, you will need to gather all the relevant documents to include with the application. 

Generally, the core documents to include are:  

  • Proof of Citizenship or passport 
  • Visa Documents 
  • Marriage Certificate  
  • Change of Name Certificate  
  • Counselling Certificate (If you’ve been married for less than two years you will need to attending counselling. This article will give you more information about this additional counselling requirement.) 
  • Any relevant court orders  
  1. Register for an online account through the Commonwealth Courts Portal  

The registration process is made online through the Commonwealth Courts Portal

This is the official web-based service for clients of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.   

  1. File an Application for Divorce 

Once an online account has been made, a divorce application can be initiated.  

There are two types of divorce applications you can make:  

  • Joint Application – Both yourself and your spouse make a joint application  
  • Sole Application – This application is made when only one spouse applies for the divorce  

In the application you will need to include the following documents:  

  • Type of application  
  • Attendance of Divorce Hearing 
  • Details of yourself and your spouse  
  • Details of the marriage and separation  
  • Details of any pending or current parenting, criminal or legal matters  
  • Parenting arrangements  

Other factors that may be necessary to determine prior to the granting of a divorce order include the resolution of:  

  • Parenting Arrangements 
  • Financial Arrangements  
  • Child Support 
  • Spousal Maintenance 
  1. If applying for a sole application, ensure you upload an Affidavit  

A sole application will require an Affidavit witnessed by an authorized person (Lawyer or Justice of the Peace).  

  1. Complete the Payment and select the hearing date and location  

The fees for an application for divorce will be $940.  

You may be able to receive a reduced fee if you can demonstrate financial hardship.  

While this is the starting costs for the application, other costs can be incurred in the divorce process depending on the complexity of the separation. These costs may also include mediation and lawyer fees.  

Once you have completed the application, you will be able to select the hearing date and time.  

  1. Complete service requirements  

A sole application will require the service of the application at least 28 days prior to the hearing if the spouse is living in Australia, or 42 days if living overseas.  

  1. Attend Hearing 

The hearing will consider your divorce application. There may be some circumstances where you will not be required to attend including if you and your spouse don’t have any children under 18 and if this type of application is a joint application.  

  1. Outcome of Hearing  

The successful application of a divorce will result in the grant of a divorce order by the Court. This order is finalized one month and one day following the order.  

The court may not grant the divorce order and seek further information regarding the separation or parenting arrangements.  

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, we can help 

Should you decide to apply for divorce, it is best that you get assistance from an experienced divorce lawyer to help you through the divorce process. At Corney & Lind Lawyers, our aim is to guide you through this process one step at a time and make available our family tree holistic service to you. Contact our friendly family law team today on (07) 3252 0011 or email enquiry@corneyandlind.com.au to see how we can best serve you. 

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