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Who is allowed to divorce in Australia?

There are three requirements for divorcing in Australia:

  • You are an Australian citizen by birth or descent (one or both parents are Australian) or Australian citizenship was granted to you OR;
  • You must consider Australia your home and currently be living in Australia and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, OR;
  • You ordinarily live in Australia and have lived in Australia for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce (even if you took short holidays or business trips overseas).

How to File an Online Divorce Application Form

Many people find it more convenient to fill out electronic forms compared to a hard copy. The Australian family law accepts divorce applications that are submitted electronically. Applicants can fill out a form for filing for divorce online and submit it through the electronic portal along with the fee and the necessary accompanying documents.

The online submission process has been made easier to facilitate the applicants. For the most part, the online form has exactly the same questions as the hard copy. However, it is more convenient to fill out due to some special features. One such feature is the validation feature. This feature notifies the applicant if he or she has skipped any question before moving on to the next page. This minimise s the risks of filing an incomplete form.

Secondly, the online form only presents questions that are relevant to the applicant. This saves a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent in going over every question on the form. The online form also provides pointers i.e. information to help the applicant provide complete and accurate responses.

The applicant can easily save the completed divorce application in the form of a PDF file on computer. The applicant can then submit the form electronically through the web portal of the Commonwealth Courts. Some of the necessary document can also be filed electronically. At the same time, the form is also saved automatically on a separate database from where it is automatically deleted after two months.

No separate charges are applied on filing the divorce application electronically. Only the standard prescribed fee for filing an application for divorce needs to be paid by the applicant. All efforts have been taken to make the process of filling out and submitting the online application smooth and hassle-free. However, the family law registry is open to provide a complete divorce kit that answers any particular queries and problems experienced by the applicants.

What Does a Divorce Kit Contain?

The divorce kit provides all the information that an applicant needs to file for divorce in Australia. The divorce kit outlines the steps one needs to take to apply for a divorce. It also provides the application form to be filled in by the applicant. There is no standard format of the divorce kit as it is provided in a number of different formats. The applicant can choose the one that best suits their needs after consultation with a divorce lawyer.

The divorce kit also provides an online version of the application form that needs to be printed out after it has been filled in by the applicant and then submitted to the Federal Magistrates Court. The Federal Magistrates Court Rules provide that the application form be printed on one side of the sheet only. The kit also specifies the fees that the applicant needs to pay at the time they submit the application form with the Federal Magistrates Court. The kit also specifies the instances where the applicant may be entitled to a reduction in the divorce fee. The law allows for the payment to be made in cash as well as via cheques, money orders and credit card.

In addition to the above, the divorce kit also contains information about the process to be followed during court hearings and how the outcome of the application is being determined. Applicants can use the application form to fill in details of up to four children. Applicants who have more than four children can use the special attachment form that comes with the divorce kit. Finally, the online application form can also be submitted electronically through the portal of the Commonwealth Courts. The divorce kit is an indispensable tool for divorce applicants and may be the best source of information on how to get a divorce in Australia.

When to File an Application for Divorce in Australia

In Australia, the law allows an application for divorce to be filed only after it becomes clear that the marriage has broken down and there is no chance of reconciliation between the partners. Whether the marriage has broken down to this point or not is being ascertained by the period over which the partners have been separated. Usually this period is of 12 months. The partners may either be separated for a continuous period of twelve months or for periods that amount to 12 months in total. However, in the latter case, it is necessary that any reconciliation should not have lasted for than three months.

The next question to be considered is who can file an application for divorce. Under Australian family law, any one partner or both can file an application for divorce in the Family Court. It is not mandatory for both the partners to want divorce. Either partner may file a divorce application for any marriage that took place within Australia or as long as any one partner is an Australian citizen or is domiciled in Australia. If neither of the above conditions exists, then the partner needs to have been an Australian resident for at least one year to be eligible for filing a divorce application.

Either partner is free to file a divorce application at any time once the separation period of twelve months elapse. Once the application has been filed, it generally takes almost eight weeks for the hearing to begin. It is difficult to estimate how long the proceedings may last before a judgment is reached. However, if no custody of children or divorce property issues are involved, and the partners agree to the divorce, the proceedings are concluded without any unnecessary delays. The decree nisi is issued at the hearing, which is followed by the decree absolute one month later to confirm the divorce.

The divorce process demystified

Transcript

Hi, I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists. Today I want to discuss a number of issues related to divorce.

I want to stress that these issues are best handled by a lawyer. I would encourage you to talk with a lawyer and to read more about these issues on our website before you take any steps on your own.

Divorce, according to Australian law, is the end of a legal marriage. That is, it’s a change in status for those in the couple. From a legal angle, it only involves those two people, not their children, not their property or the financial obligations they might have.

While all of those factors are affected by divorce, divorce itself is a fairly straightforward matter in Australia. Also, at least for now in Australia, legal divorce can only happen between a man and a woman. That’s because marriage in Australia is only legally recognised between a man and a woman.

Other couples, like same sex couples or couples who had been living together for a long time but chose not to get married, may be recognised as what’s called de facto couples. They may have many of the same rights as a married couple. But, if they choose to end their relationship they do not have to go through the process of divorce.

Divorce in Australia is no fault. This means that there doesn’t have to be a reason given for the divorce. If even one person wants to end the marriage, to get a divorce they have the legal right to end it.

There are, however, a number of conditions that need to be met before a couple can get divorced. You must be separated from each other for at least 12 months and 1 day. The court may even ask for proof that you were separated for this period of time before granting the divorce.

While generally separation means living apart from one another there are cases where a couple is considered separated even though they live in the same home. But, in this case the burden of proof is even greater, and there are a number of conditions that must be met.

So, if you are separated but living together in the same house, make sure you meet those other requirements. They include not having sexual relations, living in separate rooms, not attending social functions together, and not providing household services to each other like cooking and laundry. This shows the court that you really have ended your relationship. You can read more about this on our website.

Once you’re separated for a year and one day you can fill out an application for divorce. The application mostly asks about personal details like name, addresses, details about children, and the marriage and separation date. But, it also asks if there are other outstanding family issues in the court like property division, and this information needs to be listed.

The application must be signed in front of a lawyer, or justice of the peace, or someone else who can witness a document. Then, it’s filed with the court along with two copies and a copy of your marriage certificate. There is also a fee that you’ll need to pay when you file the application.

If you both wanted the divorce and both filled out the application then you’ll each get a copy from the court and wait for a hearing date. If only you filed the application then you have to serve the application on your spouse which means that your spouse has to get a copy of the application. Generally, a spouse is served by sending by registered mail. Your spouse can receive the application personally by hand, but you may not bring it to him or her. Someone else over the age of 18 has to serve him or her by hand.

Now, again, Australia has no fault divorce, so if one person wants the divorce there isn’t much the other spouse can do to prevent it. But, once the other spouse has the application he or she can fight the divorce by filing what’s called a response to divorce and claiming there wasn’t a separation of 12 months and 1 day or by arguing that the particular court doesn’t have the right to hear this case. Then, the case will have to be heard by the court.

But, assuming the other partner doesn’t fight the application, you will have a hearing at the court to just verify the facts of the case. The law doesn’t require everyone to attend the hearing, but you do have to go to court if you have children under 18 and only one of you apply for the divorce. If you filed a response to divorce you should probably go to the court since the judge will want to hear from you.

Now, I want to talk a bit about what happens in court. This is often scary for people, partly because just the idea of being in court is frightening and also because of the emotional side of divorce. But, it’s just a formal procedure where the judge or the registrar reviews the application. He checks that everything written is correct. The judge might ask you or your spouse some questions, too. If you have children, the judge will also want to know that everything is arranged for them, things like where they’ll live and how they’ll be supported.

Once everything is clear to the court they’ll announce that the divorce is complete and the marriage has ended. You’ll get a divorce order from the court through the mail, and this is proof of the divorce. The divorce is actually final only one month and one day from the date of the hearing. Only at that point, one month and one day, can you remarry.

You can find the application for divorce on the Internet, but we recommend you speak to a lawyer to be sure you haven’t missed out anything and to make sure you know all of your rights. You may also like to visit our online divorce service, onlinedivorce.com.au.

Thank you for watching this video. I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists.

Who gets the children?

Hi, I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists. Today’s topic is children and parental responsibility. I’m going to provide you with some of the basic information you should have before you begin discussing child custody with your spouse or partner.

I also suggest you read the information provided on our website at mathewsfamilylaw.com.au and I highly recommend that you speak with a lawyer before signing anything or filing any court documents.

Often I find that people forget the most important part of their parenting dispute, which is of course, their children. Unless one parent is a physical or emotional danger to the children, most children are better off in the long run maintaining a close and meaningful relationship with both parents. The less fighting between you, the better it is for your children.

Before you begin discussing the children with your partner or spouse, there are a few important terms to remember. First, there’s equal shared parental responsibility. Australian law changed a few years ago and today, parents are generally given equal shared parental responsibility for their children. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the children live in both homes equally, but rather that both parents have the same rights in making major decisions for the children.

The other important term is custody which means who the children live with. There is primary custody where the children live more with one parent than the other, then there’s shared care, where the parents have more shared time with the children. You and your partner can also come up with your own parenting agreement, which is an arrangement for taking care of your children.

A good parenting agreement should be as detailed as possible. It should include where the children will be on each days of the week and during the school holidays, how major decisions for the children will be made, such as the religion they have to be raised in and the schools they will attend. The agreement should also look towards the future. For example, by anticipating the changes from primarily to secondary school, extra- curricular activities and healthy expenses such as orthodontics.

A good parenting agreement will also have a way for resolving disputes. So, when there is a disagreement, there is a clear way to solve the problem. For example, some couples require that they first sit down and talk to each other to come to a compromise. Others might decide that it’s best to turn to a mediator or family dispute resolution practitioner.

You can submit this agreement to the court for approval, which makes it binding on both sides this is called a consent parenting order or you can opt for a parenting plan, which is not binding on either of you. If you can not agree between yourselves, you can bring the dispute to the court and a judge will decide for you.

We believe it’s always better for parents, and not the judge, to decide about children as it is you who knows what’s best for them. The co-parenting calendar on the Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists website will help you and your spouse or partner to plan your children’s living arrangements. I’m Vanessa Mathews at Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists.

How To Own Reconciliation And Resumption Of Cohabitation

Reconciliation and resumption of cohabitation can have a monumental effect on your divorce proceedings. A reconciliation will affect your date of separation, which in turn can affect property division and other aspects of your case. The impact of reconciliation combined with the attitude that the courts generally prefer parties to reconcile has resulted in some special rules with regard to reconciliation and resumption of cohabitation.

First, with regard to reconciliation, if the court determines that based on the evidence or attitude of the parties, a reasonable possibility of reconciliation exists, the court has the power to suspend the proceedings. This adjournment is designed to allow the parties the time and opportunity to consider reconciliation. However, if either party wishes to resume court proceedings, the court is compelled to grant this request.

Moving back in together, more specifically, resumption of cohabitation can also have a huge impact on your divorce proceedings. If your resume cohabiting, and then later agree to separate again, the period of time you had previously been separated may not apply when trying to meet the twelve-month separation requirement for divorce.

Now you may be wondering – what exactly equates to a resumption of cohabitation? The answer is that both parties must intend to resume cohabiting, act on that intention, and also be living on substantially the same terms as they were prior to the separation. An agreement to move back in together that never comes to fruition does not meet this standard. Also, simply moving in under the same roof but not resuming other aspects of the marital relationship will not equate to a resumption of cohabitation.

If you are considering moving back in with your ex, you should be aware of the special rules regarding the resumption of cohabitation. As we mentioned earlier, the court has a preference for parties to make amends, and they would prefer parties at least attempt reconciliation if there is a chance it might work rather than be too afraid to try because of the impact that reconciliation can have on the divorce proceedings. For this very reason, the court allows parties to move back in together for one period of time up to three months without there being any prejudice to their application for the divorce process in Australia.

Practically speaking, if you resume cohabiting and then separate again within three months, you may use the period of time you were previously separated in calculating the twelve-month requirement. On the other hand, if your resumption of cohabitation lasts for three months or longer, you will have to separate for a further twelve months before you can file for divorce.

How to choose a divorce lawyer

Choosing a divorce lawyer should be like making any other big Should be a process like when you buy a house or choose a school for your children. Educate yourself, ask around, ask questions, and research on the internet.

Learn about the divorce laws first. This is important for two reasons. One, it will give you an idea of what’s involved, which in turn gives you a better sense of control. The second reason is that it means you’re better informed, so when you start looking for a lawyer, you’ll better understand what he or she is talking about.

Do your research. 

Ask friends and family, call your local law society, ask others who have been through a divorce, and search the internet. Build up a list of names, including lawyers people recommended not to use.

Figure out what kind of lawyer you need. 

Ask yourself what kind of person you want to work with. Are you looking for an aggressive fighter who will get you everything you want and win the battle or do you want someone who can get results with a more gentle approach? Do you need someone who will explain everything to you each step of the way or do you prefer to let go and leave the whole burden to the lawyer?

Narrow down your list.

Do some background checking on the names you received. Look them up on the internet. If he or she wrote any articles or papers, read them. This will give you a sense of who this person is and their knowledge of the field. Ask other people who used the lawyer. A few bad recommendations should tell you not to hire this person.

Choose a family lawyer.

Family law is a very specialized area. Your brother’s best friend might be an amazing criminal lawyer, but that’s not too helpful when you have a parenting dispute with your former spouse.

Start with a phone call

You can learn a lot just from that first call. How long does it take for the lawyer to call you back? How does the lawyer treat you on the phone? Use this opportunity to ask about fees. You might discover immediately that their price is too high for you. If you decide you do want to meet them, find out if they charge for an initial meeting. Most lawyers do charge for a first consultation.

Interview before you hire.

Set up appointments with the lawyers who sound right. Look at this as a job interview – where you are the employer. How are you treated during the interview? Is the lawyer answering calls or checking emails? Is he slandering other lawyers, or worse, other clients? Do you feel you can confide in this person? Sometimes a first read is not correct, but sometimes it’s good to go with your gut feeling. You know what works for you.

Consulting with other experts

Family law requires knowledge in other fields, such as business, wills, estates, etc. Does the lawyer have other professionals to consult with? You want your lawyer to give you a full picture of the situation and the possible outcomes. Broader knowledge may be required.

When you choose, get it in writing

An agreement should include what the lawyer’s work will include and his or her fees. Does he work hourly or by the case? What about additional fees or changes in circumstances? Emergencies?

Do I have to be divorced before I can apply to the Court for children’s or property settlement Orders?

No, you do not have to wait to be divorced.

You can apply for Orders concerning your property or children as soon as you separate.

But, when your divorce is granted, you will then have only 12 months to seek property settlement Orders.  After this time you need to apply to the Court for special permission to issue proceedings.