Family & Divorce

How easy is it to get divorced in Australia?


It may come as a surprise to some that getting divorced in Australia is a relatively simple process. However, contrary to how it can be portrayed in popular culture, getting a divorce is not something that can be done immediately upon separation.

The divorce itself, defined as “the dissolution of the marriage between two people”, is a simple court process. Rather, it is formalising the property settlement in a legally binding way and/or resolving parenting arrangements for the children, that can become drawn out and costly.

Getting a divorce

In Australia, we have a “no fault” divorce system, meaning that you do not need to prove wrongdoing by either party to get divorced. You only need to show that the marriage has broken down and that there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation. This is shown by being separated for a period of 12 months.

You also need to satisfy the jurisdictional requirements to apply for divorce, which are that you or your husband/wife either:

  • regard Australia as your home and intend to live indefinitely in Australia; or
  • are an Australian citizen; or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing the divorce application.

You, or your lawyer on your behalf, can apply for a divorce online with supporting documents including a marriage certificate.

You do not need your spouse’s cooperation or their consent to get divorced.

If you are applying for the divorce solely, your spouse must be “served” with the divorce application. Specific rules apply in relation to service and a family lawyer can assist you with these requirements.

You (or your lawyer on your behalf) also need to attend a divorce hearing before a Registrar of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia if there are children of the marriage under the age of 18. Generally, if there are no children under the age of 18, a hearing in Court will not be required. The divorce hearing is in most cases a short, simple hearing (unless there are issues for example in relation to service).

If you are applying for divorce jointly with your spouse, then you do not need to “serve” the divorce application on them. You also may not need to attend the divorce hearing depending on the circumstances.

Property settlement and/or children’s arrangements

You do not have to be divorced to have a property settlement or formalise parenting arrangements for your children. You can attend to these issues immediately after separation, while you are still legally married.

Getting divorced does not mean that your property settlement or parenting arrangements are finalised in a legally binding way. In most cases, you will still need to complete a binding property settlement, which is a separate process.

Once your divorce is final, you have 12 months to make a property settlement or spousal maintenance claim. It is important that you seek advice from a family lawyer if you either apply for or are served with a divorce application as there may be important steps that must be taken before the time limit expires.

Get in touch

If you would like advice in relation to any aspect of your separation, divorce, property settlement or children’s arrangements, our team of experienced and caring family lawyers are here to help you.

To confidentially discuss your situation, please leave a message for our Family Law Team or call 1800 730 842 to speak with one of our family lawyers.