Divorce & Separation can be a confronting and traumatic experience. The irretrievable breakdown of a relationship has been identified as one of life’s most stressful events and given the emotional upheaval involved, this is not surprising.
Even if you have been thinking about separating from your partner for a long time, it is easy to be overcome with the emotions involved and lose sight of the practical and legal issues that can have a significant impact on your future.
There is no formal process for the separation of married or de facto couples however if you are married a divorce must be carried out formally through the courts. Some separated couples choose not to get divorced and this can have unexpected consequences at a later time.
How do I get a divorce?
Divorce means formally ending a marriage.
A divorce may be obtained from the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court (Federal Magistrates Court) and in most cases, divorce is a straightforward legal process.
Fourtree lawyers can help in aspects of the divorce process, including drawing up the forms, filing them with the Court and serving them on your partner.
When can we divorce?
The most important part of a divorce application is that there is no prospect of you and your partner staying married. This can be an upsetting (or relieving!) decision to make, but once you have made it, the process is a lot more simple with an experienced lawyer on call.
The easiest and most common way to prove that there is no prospect of reconciliation is to have lived apart for at least 12 months.
Divorce applications can be made before, during or after you and your partner has settled any financial dispute or dispute about your children.
What if we still live together?
Often couples find it difficult to make arrangements to live separately within the 12 months after they break up. You can make a divorce application if you still live together, we just have to explain your circumstances to the Court.
What kind of application should I make?
You and your partner can a make a joint application for divorce, meaning that your forms are filed together and no service is required.
If you and your partner are not on the best of terms, you can make a sole application for divorce, meaning that you file the paperwork and serve it on your partner.
What if I don’t know where my ex lives?
Often when people separate, they don’t stay in touch, which can make a divorce application seem daunting. At Fourtree Lawyers, we can help you try to locate your partner to serve them with your application.
If we have taken all reasonable steps to find your partner without any luck, we can explain to the Court the attempts we have made, and apply for an order allowing you to proceed with the application without them.
What if I don’t agree with my ex-partner’s divorce application?
We can help you file a response to your partner’s divorce application if the facts aren’t right. This needs to be done within 28 days of you being served with your partner’s application.
What if we haven't been married for long?
An application for divorce can still be made if you and your partner have only been married for a short period of time.
The only catch is that if you have been married for under 2 years, the Court expects you both to attend a counselling session. The 2 years is counted from the date of the marriage to the date you file your divorce application. You will still need to have been separated for over 12 months.
The purpose of the counselling is for you and your partner to discuss the possibility of reconciliation. You will need to get a certificate from the counsellor to prove that you attended. At Fourtree Lawyers we can connect you to counsellors from our wide local network, or even arrange your counselling session for you.
Sometimes counselling is not an option, for example when you can’t locate your partner, or there is domestic violence involved. In these circumstances, we will ask the Court to exempt you from counselling.
Do I have to prove my partner did something wrong?
No – Australia has had ‘no-fault divorce’ since 1975, meaning that the Court does not consider any fault, no matter the circumstances.
Do I need to go to Court?
In most cases, we can make it so that your divorce is finalised without you ever having to step foot inside a Courtroom.
You will only need to attend Court if you are making an application alone (meaning that your partner and you are not making a joint application) and have children aged under 18. Fourtree Lawyers can represent you at this hearing.
How much does the Court charge?
The Court requires a filing fee, which is currently $865. We can make an application on your behalf for the fee to be reduced if you are experiencing financial hardship.
What happens after the divorce?
Once your divorce is finalised, the Court will make formal orders and then send you a certificate that proves that you are no longer married.
You can only apply for a divorce of your Australian marriage in our Courts. If you need help applying for a divorce of an international marriage, in most cases this can be arranged from Australia.
We are here to help
Our Family Law Solicitors specialise in divorce and separation matters and represent clients throughout the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter Regions. We have the experience and understanding to guide you through the process from beginning to end to get you the best possible outcome.
If your relationship has broken down irrevocably and you are ready to move on with your life, we can help you take the next steps. Contact one of our Family Law Specialists on 1300 529 444 or fill in our contact form to arrange a free conference with a solicitor today.
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My partner and I will always be thankful that we chose Fourtree Lawyers. Kevin represented us throughout a Children’s Court case. He showed nothing less than a professional outlook on the case, yet also was very compassionate. Without the help of Kevin, we wouldn’t of had the best possible outcome. We will forever be appreciative of what Kevin has done for our family. Affordable prices with great results. If we ever need legal advice, or representation, our first call will be Fourtree lawyers.
I just wanted to say thank you for all of the help and support you have given me throughout my family law settlement. It was the worst year of my life, but you helped me feel confident that it was all going to work out OK in the end. You calmed down the heated negotiations and managed to get a fair outcome without going to court. The kids are all happy and settled in a safe new environment, and I can get on with my new future.
After three long years, my international family law matter was going nowhere, despite spending tens of thousands of dollars with an overseas law firm. I engaged Kevin Vierboom from Fourtree Lawyers to help me in bringing this nightmare to an end when it became apparent I was going to lose my job. He reviewed my case, distilled the issues and escalated the negotiations. I am very relieved to say that it’s finally over.