​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

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Divorce

A divorce is the legal end of a marriage other than by the death of a spouse. 

In Australia, a divorce is granted on a no fault basis. This means you don’t need to show to the Court who was at fault for the breakdown of your marriage. You only need to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and you have been separated for at least 12 months.

If you have decided to separate from your spouse, it is important that you understand how to apply or respond to an Application for Divorce.

This topic has information about:


    Your safety is important. If you feel unsafe or are experiencing any violence, contact the police, a domestic violence counsellor or get legal advice.

    This information can be used to apply for a divorce or respond to an application in any State or Territory in Australia. However, if you don’t live in New South Wales, you should check to see if the process is different in your State or Territory.

     If you want to apply for a Decree of Nullity (also known an as annulment), you should get legal advice. A Decree of Nullity is a Court Order that there was no legal marriage between the parties, even though a marriage ceremony may have taken place. For more information, see Applying for a decree of nullity on the Family Court of Australia website.

    Parenting, property, maintenance and child support

    The law deals with divorce separately to parenting, property, maintenance and child support.

    You have 12 months from the date your divorce is finalised to apply to the Court for Property or Maintenance Orders. There is no time limit to apply for Parenting Orders for children under the age of 18 years.

    If you need to negotiate with your spouse about parenting, property, maintenance, or child support, you should get legal advice. 

    This section covers:

    • parenting
    • property 
    • maintenance
    • child support.

    For more information, see Parenting, property, maintenance and child support.

    When you can apply for a divorce

    To apply for a divorce in Australia:

    • you must be married
    • your marriage must have broken down irretrievably 
    • you must have been separated from your spouse for at least 12 months
    • you or your spouse must be an Australian citizen or have been living in Australia for at least the last 12 months prior to filing
    • you and your spouse must make appropriate arrangements for the care of any child of your relationship, if relevant. 

    This section covers:

    • de facto relationships
    • Aboriginal customary marriages
    • no fault divorce
    • who can apply for a divorce in Australia
    • overseas marriages
    • 12 month minimum separation period
    • children.

    For more information, see When you can apply for a divorce.

    Applying for a divorce

    If you want to apply for a divorce, you can file a:

    • joint application – if you and your spouse agree to get a divorce, or 
    • sole application. 

    An Application for Divorce should be filed online via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. A divorce hearing is held in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.  

    If you can’t file your application online, you should get legal advice.

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

    This section covers:

    • getting your supporting documents
    • preparing your Affidavit
    • applying for a Divorce Order
    • applying for a fee reduction
    • serving your spouse
    • applying for Substituted Service Orders or Dispensation of Service Orders
    • serving your spouse in prison.

    For more information, see Applying for a divorce.

    Responding to an Application for Divorce

    If you have been served with an Application for Divorce you can:

    • send back the Acknowledgement of Service, or 
    • file a Response to Divorce. 

    If you agree with your spouse’s Application for Divorce, you don’t have to do anything. 

    If you were served by post, you may want to send back the Acknowledgement of Service so the Court knows you received the application.

    If you don’t agree with your spouse’s application, you may want to file a Response to Divorce. You can do this if you want to:

    • oppose your spouse’s Application for Divorce, or
    • correct any errors or dispute any facts contained in your spouse’s Application for Divorce. You can do this even if you want the divorce to be granted.

    If you file a Response to Divorce and oppose the application, you must attend the hearing.

    This section covers:

    • how to respond
    • serving your spouse.

    For more information, see Responding to an Application for Divorce.

    Going to the hearing

    Whether you have to go to the divorce hearing depends if you made a sole or joint application, and if you and your spouse have a child under 18 years old.

    You have to go to the divorce hearing if you filed a Response to Divorce and oppose the divorce.

    This section covers:

    • when you have to go to the divorce hearing
    • attending by telephone or video link
    • preparing for the hearing
    • going to the hearing
    • safety concerns.

    For more information, see Going to the hearing

    Withdrawing your Application for Divorce or Response to Divorce

    If you have filed an Application for Divorce but have changed your mind, you can withdraw your application.

    If you filed a Response to Divorce and you no longer want to oppose the Application for Divorce or amend any errors in it, you can withdraw your response.

    This section covers:

    • withdrawing your Application for Divorce or Response to Divorce
    • serving your spouse.

    For more information, see Withdrawing your Application for Divorce or Response to Divorce.

    Divorce Order

    After the Judge or Registrar has heard from you and your spouse, they will decide whether to grant a divorce. 

    If a Divorce Order is made, your divorce will be finalised one month and one day after the hearing, unless there are special circumstances. 

    A Divorce Order is sometimes called a Divorce Certificate.

    This section covers:

    • when a Divorce Order will be made
    • getting a copy of a Divorce Order.

    For more information, see Divorce Order.

    After Court

    If the Court has granted your spouse a Divorce Order, you can:

    • do nothing
    • appeal the decision.

    If you want to appeal a Divorce Order, you must file an Application for Review within 28 days before the Divorce Order comes into effect. 

    You can’t appeal a Divorce Order once it has taken effect. 

    If you agree with the Divorce Order, you don’t have to do anything. However, there may be consequences to getting a divorce that you should be aware of. 

    This section covers:

    • appealing a Divorce Order
    • updating your will
    • updating your superannuation beneficiaries
    • updating your life insurance beneficiaries
    • change of name
    • remarrying
    • recognition of overseas divorces.

    For more information, see After Court.

    Who's who in Court 

    This section has a picture of what a typical courtroom looks like, who the different people are in the courtroom and where you should sit. 

    For more information, see Who's who in Court.

    Forms

    This section has instructions, sample forms, letters and notices, and checklists.

    For more information, see Forms

    Frequently Asked Questions

    This section has answers to common questions that you may have when you separate or are getting a divorce. 

    For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions.


    Last updated: August 2020

    Picture of a couple arguing

    COVID-19 Update

    If you need to file documents with the Court, Tribunal or Commission, you should contact them directly to see what options are available to you. You may be required to file the documents online, by post or in-person. 

    If you need to appear at the Court, Tribunal or Commission, you should contact them directly to see what options are available to you. You may be required to appear in person, by phone or Audio Visual Link (AVL).

    For more information, see COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the New South Wales Local Court website. 

    Further information

    Federal Circuit Court of Australia - Family Law National Enquiry Centre

    Federal Circuit Court of Australia - List of Divorce how do I's

    Law Society of New South Wales - Divorce

    Legal Aid NSW - Best for Kids video - For Parents | Getting help in rural and regional areas

    Legal Aid NSW - Caring for kids in Aboriginal families

    Legal Aid NSW - COVID-19: Getting a divorce - what has changed?

    Legal Aid NSW - Divorce factsheet 1 - Applying for a divorce 

    Legal Aid NSW - Divorce factsheet 2 - Serving your divorce documents

    Legal Aid NSW - Divorce factsheet 3 - Separation under the same roof

    Legal Aid NSW - Divorce factsheet 4 - How to use the Commonwealth Courts Portal

    Legal Aid NSW - Divorce factsheet 5 - Serving divorce documents when your spouse is in prison

    Legal Aid NSW - What happens when we split up? Helping Aboriginal families work our what's best for kids

    Legal Aid NSW - What happens when your relationship ends