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How to Get a Divorce in Melbourne: STEP BY STEP PROCESS ON GETTING A DIVORCE  

While getting a divorce isn’t an easy situation for either party, the actual process of getting a divorce is reasonably straightforward. At Pentana Stanton, our Melbourne divorce lawyers understand the emotional challenges that come with divorce, and we are here to guide you through the process with compassion and expertise. In this step-by-step guide, we outline the essential aspects of obtaining a divorce in Melbourne, Victoria.

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Divorce Application Lodgement 

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Spousal and Child Support 

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Step 1: The Requirements for Divorce 

Under Australian law, the only requirement for a divorce is that the marriage is considered to have reached an irretrievable breakdown. The court doesn’t assign fault to any party; it simply requires confirmation that the marriage has broken down. To apply for a divorce in Australia, you must meet the following criteria:

    • Prove that you and your partner have been separated for at least 12 months. This can be demonstrated by living in separate houses or by living under the same roof but with clearly separate lives. When filing for divorce, the court will require evidence from an independent party confirming the separation, such as a friend or family member.
      • Prove that one of the following applies:
      • You and your partner are Australian citizens.
      • You live in Australia and consider it your permanent residency.
      • You usually live in Australia and have resided there for 12 months or more before applying for divorce.

Step 2: Preparing Your Divorce Application 

To initiate the divorce process, visit the Family Law Courts website and obtain the Application for Divorce. You can either complete the application jointly with your spouse or separately as a sole applicant. You have the option to fill out the application yourself or seek assistance from a qualified divorce lawyer in Melbourne.

Once the application is prepared, it must be signed before a witness, typically a Justice of the Peace (JP). Arrange a meeting with a JP, and they will witness your signature. During this process, you will make an affirmation that the contents of your application are true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.

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Step 3: Filing Your Divorce Application 

You have three options for filing your divorce application: in person, by post, or online.

      • In person: Attend your nearest Family Law Courts registry and file the application yourself.
      • By post: Send your application via registered post to the Family Law Courts.
      • Online: Use the Commonwealth Courts Portal eFile system for online filing. This method requires access to a printer and scanner to print, sign, and scan the necessary documents.

Divorce Fees: The Application for Divorce typically costs around $930, plus the Government filing fee. Reduced fees of $310 may apply if you meet specific eligibility criteria, such as receiving government health concessions, legal aid, Austudy, ABSTUDY, youth allowance, or being under 18 years old. Financial hardship may also qualify you for a reduced fee.

Step 4: Serving Your Divorce Application 

If you are the sole applicant, you must ensure that your spouse is aware of the divorce proceedings, even if they do not agree to the divorce. You can serve the divorce application by mail or through a third party. If you are unable to locate your spouse, you must demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to find them. In this case, you will state their address as ‘unknown’ and seek an order that allows you to dispense with service of the application.

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Step 5: Your Divorce Hearing 

After filing your divorce application and completing any necessary service proceedings, the court will allocate a hearing date. Keep in mind that this process may take several months from the time you lodge your application. If all your application papers are complete, the court will finalize your divorce order at the hearing.

Court attendance is generally not required when applying for divorce, unless you have children under the age of 18 or choose to attend in person.

Step 6: Finalizing Your Divorce 

Once the court has made a decision on your application, your divorce will be finalized one month and one day following the hearing. The court will issue you a divorce certificate, officially recognizing the legal termination of your marriage.

HOW DIVORCE LAWYERS IN MELBOURNE CAN HELP 

Divorce proceedings can be emotionally challenging, and we understand the importance of having the right guidance and support during this time. At Pentana Stanton Lawyers, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and expert legal assistance throughout your divorce process. Contact us today to book a consultation with divorce solicitors in Melbourne and allow us to support you through this sensitive period of your life.

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Why Victorians Choose Pentana Stanton Lawyers 

More than a thousand Victorians have moved on from a separation or divorce with a Pentana Stanton solicitor. Here’s why. 

FCFCOA Matters

Focused on Family Law 

We’re a full-service law firm, but we started out helping Victorians navigate the family law system.  

As experienced family lawyers, we know how to help you move forward with your life – even in stressful or extreme situations. 

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Informal Mediation

Advocacy-based Approach 

Most lawyers passively represent clients, viewing them as cases, not people. 

Instead, we actively advocate for the outcome you deserve, grounding our approach in our understanding of your individual needs. 

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Fluent in Nine Languages 

With solicitors fluent in Arabic, Bosnian, Cantonese, Croatian, English, Greek, Serbian, Sinhalese and Spanish, we’re a law firm for all Victorians. 

Victorians We’ve Helped 

Your Law Team 

Penny LaGreca
Partner | Principal Solicitor 

Penny is a leading family law solicitor admitted in the Supreme Court of Victoria. 

She has a broad range of expertise across multiple practice areas like family law, Wills and estate planning, and personal injuries, and is currently completing a Masters of Family Law. 

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Veronica Toth
Senior Solicitor
 

Veronica is a family law solicitor with extensive experience in mediation, separation litigation, child protection, and intervention orders. 

Veronica has worked in both the private and community sectors, giving her the knowledge needed to successfully handle highly complex, diverse matters. 

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Durra Baraz
Senior Solicitor
 

A mother of three, Durra Baraz is a highly experienced family law solicitor with a background in HR. 

She speaks fluent Arabic and often represents clients who aren’t native English speakers. 

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Ariane Ang
Solicitor 

Ariane Ang combines experience in criminal and commercial matters with a focus on family law. 

She primarily practices in matters involving property division, parenting arrangements, and intervention orders. 

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Teraseth James
Solicitor 

Teraseth James is a family law solicitor who focuses on achieving swift, equitable outcomes. 

She understands that family violence matters are incredibly emotional, and takes a practical, cost-effective approach to resolving disputes. 

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Divorce and Separation Resources 

If your relationship feels tense or uncertain, learn about your options with our library of divorce and separation resources.

 

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Divorce and Separation Law FAQs 

What is an annulment?

An annulment or declaration of nullity is when the Court declares that you and your partner were never legally married. A divorce, on the other hand, recognises that you were married, but that your marriage is now finished. 

The Court can grant an annulment if: 

            • you or your partner were already married to someone else; 
            • you and your partner have a legally prohibited relationship (for example, if you’re both closely related); 
            • the marriage ceremony itself was not valid; 
            • you or your partner were under 18 years of age and did not have the required approvals; or 
            • you or your partner were forced into marriage under duress. 

Experiencing family violence or not living together are not grounds for annulment in Australia. 

Keep in mind that getting an annulment doesn’t deal with property settlement or child custody matters. 

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Melbourne?

On average, family lawyers range from about $300 per hour (for newly graduated lawyers) to about $500 per hour (for family law specialists). Exactly how many hours your divorce takes depends on the complexity of your situation. 

If, for example, you and your partner have an amicable relationship, four or five hours of legal advice around property settlement, parenting arrangements, and estate planning might be enough for you to move forward with your life. 

On the other hand, a contentious divorce or separation, especially one with property disputes or child custody battles, can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months or even years. 

For that reason, we often find that finalising separations out of court is better for our clients. Informal mediation or family dispute resolution can help save you time and money (and stop your relationship with your ex-partner from deteriorating further). 

How do you find a good divorce lawyer in Melbourne?

The best way to find a good divorce lawyer is to talk to someone who has gone through a separation or divorce. If they’ve been happy with their lawyer (especially if their divorce situation is similar to yours), that can be a good starting point. 

Alternatively, search ‘divorce lawyer Melbourne’ or ‘separation lawyer Melbourne’ in Google. The top 10 websites you see will generally be the most trusted and experienced family law firms in Melbourne. 

Once you have a shortlist of potential lawyers, you can enquire about other aspects that matter to you, like their professional approaches, their pricing, the languages they speak, and their levels of legal experience. You can also look at Google reviews or testimonials on each firm’s website.     

How do I apply for spousal maintenance or child support?

Your estate planning – which includes your Will – deals with how your property should be divided up when you die. You should review your estate planning whenever you have a major change in circumstances, such as the birth of a child or divorce. 

In Victoria, getting married automatically revokes any existing Will. Divorce also affects your Will – unless specified otherwise, any appointments of or dispositions of property made to your ex-spouse in a Will that you made before divorce will be revoked. 

Keep in mind, though, that ‘divorce’ only legally occurs once the Court finalises your divorce. You must wait at least 13 months and one day for that to happen, and many divorces take much longer. As such, it’s generally a good idea to update your Will (and the rest of your estate planning) as soon as you’ve separated. 

You can get advice about your situation from our Wills and estates team by booking a free 30-minute consultation. 

When should I change my Will after separation?

If you have recently divorced or separated and you’re unable to adequately support yourself, you can request spousal or de facto maintenance from your ex-partner. You must apply within 12 months of the divorce order taking effect, or within two years of separation. You can’t normally apply for maintenance if you’ve re-married. 

If you think that your ex-partner doesn’t contribute equally to caring or maintaining your child, you can request child support by lodging an application for a child support assessment.   

Expert separation and divorce advice from leading Melbourne lawyers. 

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