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. However, you should 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 can 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 court to grant a divorce.
If you file a Response to Divorce and oppose the divorce, you must attend the hearing.
If you don’t know what to do, you should get legal advice.
This section covers:
If you don’t agree with the Application for Divorce and 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 Nullity (Invalid marriage) on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
How to respond
To respond to an Application for Divorce you must file a Response to Divorce.
You can download a copy of this Response to Divorce form from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
You will need to include the following information in your response:
- your full name and your spouse’s full name
- your address for service
- the orders you are seeking
- the reasons you:
- want the divorce application dismissed, or
- disagree with the facts in the Application for Divorce.
Opposing an application
You can oppose a divorce application if you:
- have not been separated for the minimum 12 month period, or
- the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the application, for example, you are not legally married or you are not an Australian citizen and you don't ordinarily live in Australia.
To do this:
- say ‘Yes’ to question 5 on the Response to Divorce, and
- write your reasons for opposing the application at question 6.
If the court finds that either of these grounds exist, it will dismiss or adjourn the application.
Instructions: Instructions for completing a Response to Divorce – application opposed
Sample: Response to Divorce – application opposed
If you dispute any of the facts set out in the Application for Divorce, but don’t oppose the divorce, you can may file and serve an Affidavit setting out the facts in dispute. You must do this at least seven days before the hearing date. If you file an Affidavit, you should go to court for the hearing.
Correcting errors or disputing facts
To correct any errors or dispute the facts in the divorce application:
- say ‘No’ to question 5 on the Response to Divorce,
- say ‘Yes’ to question 7, and
- list the errors or state the facts that you disagree with at question 7.
You can do this even if you want the court to grant a divorce.
Instructions: Instructions for completing a Response to Divorce – application not opposed
Sample: Response to Divorce – application not opposed
Don’t sign your Response to Divorce until you are ready to have it witnessed.
If you file a Response to Divorce and oppose the divorce, you must attend the hearing in person unless the court gives you permission to appear by telephone or video link.
Signing and filing your response
Once you have completed your Response to Divorce, you must have it witnessed by an authorised person (Justice of the Peace or lawyer).
You can file your Response to Divorce online via the Commonwealth Courts Portal or in person at a court registry.
You don’t have to pay a fee to file your Response to Divorce.
When you file your response, it will be stamped with the courts seal and returned to you so that you can serve it on your spouse.
Serving your spouse
You must serve your Response to Divorce on your spouse within 28 days of being served with the Application for Divorce. If you were served overseas, you must serve your response within 42 days of being served the Application for Divorce.
You can do this by:
- delivering your response to their home address
- sending it by registered post
- email – if email address provided in address for service
- sending it to your spouse’s lawyer – if their lawyer has agreed to accept service.
You don’t need to serve your spouse by hand, but you can if you want to.
If your spouse is overseas, there is a different process you must follow to serve them with your response. For more information about how to serve your spouse overseas, see Serving a legal document across international borders on the Attorney-General’s Department website.