When you have to go to the hearing
If you and your spouse file a joint divorce application, you don’t have to attend the divorce hearing (even if you and your spouse have a child under 18 years old), unless you have said you will attend in your application. If you don’t attend, it’s important to check what happened at the hearing.
If you file a sole application, you don’t have to attend the divorce hearing if:
- you and your spouse don’t have a child under 18 years old, and
- your spouse does not respond to your Application for Divorce.
You should consider attending if there are any complex issues, for example, separation under one roof, it was a short marriage or there are problems with the marriage certificate.
You have to attend the divorce hearing if:
- you and your spouse have a child under 18 years old
- your spouse files a Rsponse to Divorce opposing your Application for Divorce
- you have filed an Application in a Case for Substituted Service or Dispensation of Service Orders, or
- you asked to attend.
Response to Divorce
You will need to attend the divorce hearing if you file a Response to Divorce opposing your spouse’s Application for Divorce. You will need to explain to the Court why you are opposing the application.
Attending by telephone or video link
All divorce hearings are by telephone unless you have asked to attend in person, or the Court orders you to attend in person.
You can find the details of your hearing, on the Commonwealth Courts Portal or the court lists from 4pm the day before the hearing.
For the court lists, see Daily court lists on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
If you have been ordered to attend the hearing in person, but are not available, you can ask to attend the divorce hearing by telephone or video link.
To do this, you must:
- inform your spouse that you will be asking the Court to attend by telephone or video link, and
- file a Telephone/Video link attendance request form at least five business days before the hearing at the court registry where the hearing will take place. You can download a copy of the Telephone/Video link attendance request form from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
It is up to the Court whether to grant your request or not.
Your safety is important. If you feel unsafe or are experiencing any violence, contact the police, a domestic violence counsellor or get legal advice.
Instructions: Instructions for completing a Request to attend by electronic communication
Sample: Sample Request to attend by electronic communication
Preparing for the hearing
It is important that you prepare for your divorce hearing so you can tell the Court about your application and answer the Court’s questions.
You should read the documents that have been filed with the Court and plan what you want to say.
If you need an interpreter or other support from the Court, you should notify the Court at least two weeks before the hearing.
Step by step guide: Preparing for the hearing
If you are concerned about your safety, you should tell the court staff at least five working days before the hearing so that they have time to make arrangements to protect your safety.
This can include:
- use of the safe room
- a separate entry and exit point from the court
- allowing you to have a support person
- allowing you to give evidence by video or audio link
- closing the court to the public
- excluding certain people from being in the courtroom.
If there is an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) in place concerning you and your spouse, you should have included information about this in your application. If you didn’t, you should get legal advice.
For more information, see Do you have fears for your safety when attending court? on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
Going to the hearing
At the divorce hearing, the Court will consider the documents that have been filed by you and your spouse and anything you want to say and then make a decision.
The Court may:
- grant a Divorce Order
- adjourn or dismiss your application
- make Substituted Service or Dispensation of Service Orders
- make any other Orders.
Step by step guide: Going to the hearing