Family Law in Australia: What You Need to Know About Divorce

Navigating through a divorce can be complex and emotionally taxing. As family lawyers, we encounter numerous queries each day and understand the importance of clear, reliable information. With recent changes to the Family Law Act taking effect from May 2024, it’s crucial to understand how these reforms might impact your divorce process. Here’s an updated guide to the most frequently asked questions about divorce in Australia.

A distressed man holding his head in a room, with a woman comforting a young girl in the background.

A family copes with emotional strain, highlighting the complexities behind legal family matters.

How do I apply for a divorce?

You can submit your divorce application online via the Commonwealth Courts Portal, in person, or by post. The application can be made alone or jointly with your partner. As of 2024, the filing fee is $1060, although a reduced fee of $350 may apply if you are eligible. This fee is subject to change, so please check the latest information on the Commonwealth Courts website.

Can I get divorced without going to court?

Yes, if the divorce is uncontested and all paperwork is in order, you may not need to appear in court. However, if there are children under 18, court attendance may be required to ensure all arrangements are in the children’s best interests.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Australia?

A mandatory separation period of 12 months and one day is required before applying for a divorce. The divorce process itself can take several months from the filing date to the finalisation of the divorce order, which takes effect one month and one day after it is issued.

Am I eligible to apply for a divorce in Australia?

Eligibility requires that you or your spouse regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, or you are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or by grant of Australian citizenship, or ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.

How long do you need to be separated before you can apply for a divorce?

The separation period before filing for divorce is at least 12 months and one day.

Are assets divided 50/50 in divorce?

Asset division is not automatically split 50/50. The court considers various factors such as the length of the marriage, contributions by each party and future needs.

How much will a divorce cost?

Apart from the filing fee, additional costs can include legal fees and court costs, which vary based on the complexity of your case.

Can you be separated and live in the same house?

Yes, ‘separation under one roof’ is possible if you can prove that you were separated during this time. This may involve providing additional evidence such as separate bank accounts, sleeping arrangements, etc.

Can a party refuse a divorce?

While a spouse can contest a divorce application, the court will grant a divorce if the legal criteria are met, notably the requirement of a 12-month separation.

How does a divorce affect my will and superannuation?

Divorce can invalidate the provisions in your will concerning your spouse unless expressly stated otherwise. Superannuation is treated as property and can be divided between parties by agreement or court order.

Changes to the Family Law Act

Significant reforms to the Family Law Act have been introduced, aimed at protecting children and simplifying the legal process. Notably, the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility has been removed, and courts now emphasise the child’s best interests without this presumption. For more information on how these changes might impact your situation, consulting a family lawyer is recommended.

For detailed advice tailored to your circumstances, contact Pentana Stanton’s lawyers who specialise in family law.

Next Steps After Understanding Divorce FAQs

With the FAQs in mind, you might be wondering what to do next. Taking the right steps forward is crucial in ensuring your divorce process is as smooth and efficient as possible. Here’s a succinct guide on the next steps you might consider:

  • Consultation with a Family Lawyer: An initial consultation can provide personalised advice tailored to your situation.
  • Financial Preparation: Consider your financial situation and how it will change post-divorce.
  • Support System: It’s important to have emotional support from friends, family, or professionals.
  • Documentation and Records: Begin gathering all necessary documentation, such as marriage certificates and financial records.
  • Consider Your Living Situation: Plan for your immediate living arrangements during and after the divorce process.
  • Parenting Arrangements: If children are involved, start thinking about parenting plans and child support.
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Remember, every divorce is unique, and while online resources are helpful, they cannot replace the tailored advice of a professional family lawyer. Call us on (03) 900 22 800.