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What is the process for separating or divorcing?

Barrister and Mediator Jack Whelan advises that the actual process of divorce is quite simple. 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.

And that 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.

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.

Whilst the process is simple the decisions can be difficult. What occurs to many people who enter the Court for the first time is the reality that in court, someone else is in charge of your future.


Watch this animated journey through the separation and divorce maze.


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Parenting order example

Financial & property order example