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How do I get a divorce in Australia?

While the words ‘separation’ and ‘divorce’ are often used interchangeably, they mean different things.

Divorce is the formal legal ending of a marriage.

The granting of a divorce does not determine issues of financial support, property distribution or arrangements for children. It simply recognises that the marriage has ended.

Put another way. ‘Having a divorce is the easy part,’ says Barrister and Mediator Jack Whelan. ‘The hard part is the separation — and making sure that the separation is fair and that the kids are put first.’

Am I eligible for divorce?

The only ground is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. That is, there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together.

That you 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. (Noting that it’s possible to live together in the same home and still be separated.)

You can apply for a divorce in Australia if either you or your spouse:

  • regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, or
  • are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or by grant of Australian citizenship, or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce

What is the Court process for divorcing?

You don’t have to appear in Court yourself.

It’s a matter of the orders being registered in the Court. And a Court does not consider why the marriage ended.

You must make a genuine effort to resolve your disputes through dispute resolution services before you can apply to the Courts for parenting orders and Courts also tend to encourage mediation before considering financial orders.

The Court will not be able to hear an application for a parenting order unless a certificate from an accredited family dispute practitioner is filed with the application.

The Family Court requires people applying for financial orders to follow pre-action procedures including dispute resolution before being able to file an application.

While the process is relatively simple, the decisions can be difficult.

Who can help me with my divorce application?

The legally-qualified Mediators and Family Lawyers in our network can talk you through your next steps.

The professionals in our network have signed our Ethical Charter which means they believe in de-escalation and see Court as a last resort.


The Separation Guide aims to make separation and divorce simpler, more manageable and less stressful. To find out more about how one of our Network Members could support your separation, take our free 3-minute Q&A.

The information in our resources is general only. Consider getting in touch with a professional adviser if you need support with your legal, financial or wellbeing needs.