Family and Defacto Relationship Law
Wills & Estates
“Divorce” is often misunderstood as an all-encompassing process that deals with all aspects of a marriage breakdown, including parenting issues concerning children of the marriage and financial issues such as a property settlement. However, getting divorced merely means formally ending the marriage – nothing more.
Divorce is a relatively straightforward process for most, particularly when both spouses are aware of the other’s whereabouts. In Australia, we have a no fault divorce system, so neither spouse is required to prove that the other spouse is to blame for the marriage breakdown. An application to the court can be made jointly (if both parties are willing) or separately, in which case the application must be served on the other spouse so they are aware of the proceedings and can participate if they wish to.
For the court to grant a divorce, it must be satisfied that:
If you and your spouse need to divide your assets, i.e. attend to a matrimonial property settlement, you do not have to wait until you are divorced before you do this. Indeed, most separated couples will at least start negotiations about the division of their assets well before they are eligible to apply for a divorce. On the other hand, you do not have to finalise your property settlement before filing for a divorce. However, what is important to know is that there is a 12 month time limitation to start court proceedings seeking a financial settlement from when a divorce order takes effect.