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Divorce

Divorce Process: How Long Does It Take in Australia

Divorce is often messy and painful. It could easily be a traumatic phase in life. It subjects people to a great amount of stress adding up to the stack of paperwork that needs to be accomplished. In Australia, getting a divorce doesn’t take as long as some other countries because Australia is a no-fault jurisdiction. The principle of no-fault divorce in Australian law was established by the Family Law act 1975. 

The law means that the court does not need to know the reason for the divorce and therefore you do not have to prove any grounds for the divorce such as adultery or abandonment. The only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. That, there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together. You and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months and one day in order to satisfy the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Once you have satisfied the eligibility requirements, a divorce application can be prepared and filed via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. You may have the option to do this yourself or to have an expert accomplish it on your behalf. 

Efficient handling of the process can result in a speedy disposition of the divorce application. It generally takes about three months from the first date of filing your application for divorce with the court, until the divorce is granted at a hearing and draft orders are made. One month and a day after the date of your divorce hearing provided your divorce is granted on the day of its hearing, the orders will be made final and you will each receive a copy.

In some cases your divorce may take longer than four months should you encounter any difficulties in serving your spouse with court sealed copies of the divorce application or the court is not satisfied with certain aspects of your application, say, for instance, the arrangements you claim to have made for your children.

When can you remarry? 

In Australia, you can lodge a notice of your intention to marry before your divorce orders have been granted, but you cannot actually proceed to another marriage. You should not make firm plans to marry on a specific date without ensuring that you have allowed enough time for your divorce order to be finalized. Doing otherwise is illegal and it constitutes a crime called bigamy. In some circumstances you may apply to the Court to shorten the time, however, you should not rely on the Court approving a shortening of the time.

It is important to note that the person who is authorized to perform the marriage must actually sight the divorce order before they can marry you so there is no way to marry without it. 

Important Additional Considerations

The divorce is the formal legal end of the parties’ union; however, it is only one part of the legal process when a relationship breaks down irretrievably. Separating couples also need to settle on the property and work out appropriate arrangements for their children, ensuring that you each receive a fair and equitable portion and can live financially independent of each other without further claims in the future. The division of property must be done within 12 months of the date of the divorce order and this constitutes a separate legal process. 

Seeking Legal Advice 

Divorces can get complicated, tedious, and stressful. It is very important that all the right procedural steps are followed. A divorce or family law specialist would be necessary to make sure everything is completed correctly–which helps you move on with your life as quickly as possible.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities before applying for a divorce is essential to the entire legal process itself. It is easier to have a clear oversight of the process you must go through and the details you have to include in order to get through the whole thing as quickly as possible.  You obtain legal advice from a lawyer who can help explain how the law applies to your case.

The Family Relationships Advice Line (FRAL) can help you with free legal advice and information about services available to assist anyone with family relationships issues, including information relating to family law proceedings. 

The Key Point

Getting a divorce in Australia doesn’t take as long as some other countries because Australia is a no-fault jurisdiction, which means that the court does not need to know the reason for the divorce and therefore you do not have to prove any grounds for the divorce such as adultery or abandonment. The only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. That, there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together. You and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months and one day in order to satisfy the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

If handled efficiently, the process can generally take up about three months from the first date of filing your application for divorce with the court, until the divorce is granted at a hearing and draft orders are made. One month and a day after the date of your divorce hearing provided your divorce is granted on the day of its hearing, the orders will be made final and you will each receive a copy.

If you intend to remarry, you must lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage with an authorized marriage celebrant at least one month before the date the marriage is solemnized. The authorized celebrant must sight a copy of the divorce order before the wedding can take place. In most cases, the divorce order takes effect one month and one day after the divorce is granted. You should not assume the divorce will be granted at the first court hearing. 

Separating couples also need to settle on the property and work out appropriate arrangements for their children, ensuring that you each receive a fair and equitable portion and can live financially independent of each other without further claims in the future.

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