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Step-by-step guide icon Step by step guide - Applying for a Divorce Order 

Applications for Divorce are filed online via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. A divorce hearing is before a Judge or Registrar of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.  

Currently, Applications for Divorce for same-sex couples can’t be filed online. To file an application, contact the Family Law National Enquiry Centre

Alert IconIf you are don’t know how to apply, you should get legal advice.

Step 1: Register for a Commonwealth Courts Portal online account 

To register for an account: 

  1. go to the Commonwealth Courts Portal
  2. select ‘Register now’ above the login section 
  3. enter your personal details, including:
    • name
    • phone number
    • email address
  4. choose a username
  5. choose a password
  6. if you agree to the terms and conditions of use, tick the box next to ‘I have read and accept the terms and conditions of use’
  7. click ‘Register’. You will now receive an email with your chosen username and a temporary password 
  8. return to the Commonwealth Courts Portal main page 
  9. enter your username and temporary password 
  10. create a new password
  11. if you agree to the terms and conditions of use, tick the box next to ‘I have read and accept the terms and conditions of use’.

Step 2: Create a new Application for Divorce

To apply for a Divorce Order:

  1. click ‘Start a new file’
  2. click ‘Confirm’
  3. tick the box ‘Application for Divorce’
  4. click ‘Continue’
  5. tick the box ‘Federal Circuit Court of Australia’ 
  6. click ‘Continue’
  7. enter a title and description for your application, for example ‘Application for Divorce’
  8. click ‘Create’ and then ‘OK’. 

Step 3: Complete your Application for Divorce

Save and validate each section of your application as you go so you do not lose your work.  Information you have saved will be kept for 90 days.

When completing your application you must include the following information:

  • whether you are a sole applicant or joint applicant 
  • whether you want to attend the divorce hearing
  • the details of you and your spouse, including:
    • full name
    • gender
    • date of birth
    • country of birth 
    • the date you began living in Australia, if relevant
    • occupation
    • address – both a residential address and an address for service
  • details of your marriage, including the date, place and country where it took place
  • the date of separation
  • if you and your spouse lived together as a married couple for less than three months after separating, the dates of both periods of separation
  • the details of any current or pending cases for parenting, criminal, Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO) or care and protection matters
  • the details of any existing Court Orders or agreements relating to parenting, criminal, ADVO or care and protection matters
  • the details of current arrangements for any child under 18 years old of the relationship, including: 
    • living arrangements 
    • time spent and communication with both parents
    • educational arrangements 
    • health and wellbeing of your child
    • financial support. 

Checklist iconChecklist: Applying for a Divorce Order

Alert IconIf you have safety concerns about including any information in the application, you should get legal advice.

Sole or joint application

You can make a sole application or a joint application, if you and your spouse agree to get a divorce.  

If you make a sole application:

  • you are the applicant and your spouse is the respondent  
  • you will have to answer all the questions in the application about you and your spouse.  If you don’t know the answer, you can write ‘not known’.  The Court can refuse to accept your application if there is information missing
  • you will need to have the application and supporting documents served on your spouse
  • you will have to attend the divorce hearing if you and your spouse have a child under 18 years old.

If you make a joint application:

  • you and your spouse are joint applicants
  • all questions on the application must be answered - you can do this by filling in the application together or asking your spouse to provide you with the information you need
  • you and your spouse will both need to sign the application 
  • you will not need to serve the application on your spouse
  • you do not have to attend the divorce hearing unless there are any complex issues – if there are complex issues, for example, separation under one roof, you should consider attending.

Children

Applying for a divorce is a separate process to applying for Parenting Orders. However, if you and your spouse have a child under 18 years old, the Court needs to be satisfied that you have made proper arrangements for your child before it will grant you a divorce. 

If the Court is not satisfied that appropriate arrangements have been made, it may not grant you a divorce. 

A child of the marriage includes a child:

  • of you and your spouse, including a child born before the marriage or after separation
  • adopted by you and your spouse
  • that was treated as a member of your family prior to separation, for example a step child or foster child. 

Upload your documents

After you have filled out your application you must scan and upload your supporting documents, including (where relevant):

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Translation of Marriage Certificate
  • Affidavit: Translation of Marriage Certificate
  • proof of citizenship
  • Counselling Certificate
  • Affidavits
  • Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity 
  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.

Alert IconYou must complete the Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity form before you submit your application.

Icon - sample/instructionsStep by step guide: Applying for fee reduction

After you have uploaded your documents, you can create a draft copy of your application by selecting ‘Print preview’.  Check to make sure the information you have included is correct and you have uploaded all relevant supporting documents.  

After you have checked your application, you can then select ‘Lock and continue’. 

Alert IconYou will not be able to make any changes to your application after you lock it. 

After you have completed your application, you must print the Affidavit for eFiling Application to be signed by an authorised witness (Justice of the Peace or Lawyer). 

Alert IconDon’t sign your Affidavit until you are ready to have it witnessed. 

Icon - sample/instructionsSample: Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce)

Step 4: Get your Affidavit for eFiling Application witnessed

If you are making a sole application, you must sign the Affidavit for eFiling Application and have it witnessed by an authorised person (Justice of the Peace or Lawyer). 

If you are making a joint application, both you and your spouse must sign the Affidavit for eFiling Application. You don’t have to get your signatures witnessed at the same time. 

If you can’t both sign the same Affidavit, you can each sign individual Affidavits and upload them both to the portal. 

Step 5: Upload your Affidavit for eFiling Application

Once you have signed and had your Affidavit for eFiling Application witnessed, you must scan and upload it to the Commonwealth Courts Portal. 

Step 6: Print the ‘Marriage, families and separation’ brochure

The next step is to download and print the ‘Marriage, families and separation’ brochure.  Check the box when you have done this. 

If you have made a sole application, you will need to include this brochure with the documents to be served on your spouse. 

Step 7: Choose the Court location

You must choose the Court location that you want your application to be heard. 

Step 8: Pay the fee

If you did not apply for a fee reduction, you must choose a payment option. 

Enter your payment details and submit the payment.

Your application can’t proceed without a successful payment.   

Step 9: Choose a hearing date

After you have paid the fee, you must choose a date and time for the hearing. 

The dates shown in the calendar are the next available dates. 

Step 10: Check that your documents have been received and download the stamped documents

When the Court registry receives your application and supporting documents, it will stamp them with the Court seal and upload a sealed copy to the portal.  When you file your documents online, this is an electronic process, with the Court seal added to them online.   

You will need to download and print the sealed documents.  If, after a couple of days, your application has not been sealed, you should contact the registry to check that your documents have been received. 

Step 11: Serve the application

If you have made a sole application, you will need to serve the documents on your spouse.  If you have made a joint application, you will need a copy of the documents for your records.

Icon - sample/instructionsStep by step guide: Serving your spouse

If your spouse is in prison, there are different rules that you must follow to serve them with your application. It is important that you follow these rules so that the Court can hear your application. 

Icon - sample/instructionsStep by step guide: Serving your spouse in prison

Alert IconYou must serve your spouse at least 28 days before the court hearing, if they are in Australia. If your spouse is overseas, you must serve them at least 42 days before the court hearing. If you don’t, the court may adjourn or dismiss your application.

For further information, see How do I apply for a Divorce? on the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website.