Divorce - Family Law FAQ

Answers to common questions from our Brisbane divorce lawyers


Australia has a ‘no fault’ Divorce system.
This means the only ground for a dissolution of marriage is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, evidenced by 12 months living separately and apart.

You cannot apply for a Divorce until after the 12 months has passed.
If you try to backdate the Application and say you separated earlier, this is not only perjury, but can have negative consequences for your property settlement.

If your spouse has filed an Application and you do not want it to be granted, the only ground on which you can object to it is if you say you have not been separated for at least 12 months. The Court will then consider the evidence.

If you separated then reconcile for periods, you have to have been separated for total periods of 12 months (so ignoring the periods when reconciled) before you can apply for a Divorce.

So, for example if you separated on 1 January 2018, reconcile between 1 July 2018 and 30 December 2018, you can apply  on 1 July 2019.

You can file an application online or we can assist you. If you have any unusual circumstances we recommend obtaining assistance with the application.

If your spouse agrees, you can file a joint application which simplifies the process considerably.

The Court fees change from time to time and can be found on the Family Court website. We offer fixed fees for most Divorce Applications.

Contact our Brisbane divorce lawyers to obtain a fixed fee divorce quote.

Once the Application is filed, if it was not a joint application, it has to be personally served on your spouse. It cannot be posted and you cannot served it.

Usually we would engage a process server to serve the Application.

After service, documents have to be filed in Court to prove service.

If you have not filed a joint application and you have children under 18 – yes, you must attend.

Otherwise, you do not need to attend but may choose to do so.

You (and your solicitor if represented) will report in to the Court Officer.

You wait in the back of the courtroom and when called, approach the bar table. If you have a family lawyer, they will sit at the Bar table and you will sit behind. Otherwise you sit at the bar table.

There are rules of etiquette in Court:

– You stand when the Judge or Registrar is speaking to you

– No hats or sunglasses on heads

– No chewing gum

– No recording

– Mobile phones switched off or on silent (not vibrating)

The Judge or Registrar will read the documents and may ask some questions. If you have a family lawyer, you will not have to speak.

If all the paperwork is correct, an interim Divorce Order will be granted.

Your family lawyer can check on online the day after the hearing, and advise you if your divorce was granted.

If you are representing yourself, you can check.

An interim Divorce Order remains in place for one month. This allows a period in case parties change their minds or wish to appeal the decision (This has not happened to us in 20 years of family law, but never say never…)

After the one month, the interim Order becomes a Final Divorce Order.

The court then processes the paperwork and it is posted out to you or your family lawyer. There can be delays in processing so if you need it urgently make sure the Court is made aware of that at the hearing.

You are not legally divorced until the final Divorce Order is made.

It’s a good idea not to book another wedding ceremony until you have your final Divorce Order, because the person officiating your marriage is required to see it.

There are some limited circumstances where the process can be hurried along.

Contact us for specific legal advice about your situation.

Once you are divorced, there are some pretty significant legal consequences.

These include:

– you only have 12 months to apply for a property settlement or spousal maintenance under the Family Law Act

– your will is affected. The way it is impacted depends on which state you live in.

– you are no longer considered a spouse for the purposes of family provision claims, family trusts, superannuation, Centrelink etc.

We recommend all clients review their will, enduring power of attorney and superannuation beneficiaries on separation as otherwise, if your property settlement is not finalised and you pass away, your spouse could receive your entire estate.

If you do not have a will at all, it is even more important if you are separated to have one drawn up that reflects your wishes. If you have enough money to need a property settlement, you need a properly drafted will.

Contact us about having a will prepared.

Yes! Provided you were legally married overseas, if you are sufficiently connected to Australia, you can Divorce in Australia.

Generally speaking, if you live here permanently, you will be ok, but contact us to make sure you won’t have any problems.

Can I get a Divorce if we had a same sex marriage overseas?

Yes. You certainly can!!

Australians who were legally married under the laws of the place of marriage now have their marriages recognised.

That means you have a valid Marriage, so you can get a Divorce.

Remember that once you are divorced, you only have 12 months to apply for a property settlement or spouse maintenance.

Once you file your application for divorce, which must be at least 12 months after the date you separated, it takes about three months for your divorce to be heard.

After the divorce hearing, the divorce order is issued one month and one day later.

In Australia, under the Family Law Act, you cannot get divorced until you have been separated for at least 12 months.

If you have had periods of separation and then reconciled, the periods of separation must total 12 months before you can get a divorce.

Yes, you can be separated and live in the same house and still get divorced.

This is called separation under the one roof.

You need to be able to prove to the Family Court that you are genuinely separated before they will grant you a divorce.ent

In Australia, we have a no-fault divorce system under the Family Law Act.

The only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage based on 12 months separation.

The only way you can refuse a divorce is if you have not actually been separated for 12 months.

If that is the case, you need to file a response in the Family Court.

Family law information on this page is general in nature only and is not a substitute for family law legal advice.

Contact our Brisbane Divorce Lawyers for advice about your situation.