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Separating from a partner and ending a relationship is a very difficult time for everyone involved. There are some things you need to know about how to apply for divorce that will help you in making this transition a bit easier to undertake.

Period of separation

Before you can apply for divorce, you and your partner need to have been separated for at least 12 months. You will also need to provide some information to show that there is no reasonable likelihood that you can work out your issues and get back together. For marriages that are under two years, the Court requires you to attend counselling first or file an application with the Court as to why you cannot attend counselling. Reasons for the Court allowing you to skip the counselling can include where there is family violence in the relationship.

If you have separated from your partner but have continued living in the same house with them for a period, you will need to provide some extra information with your application. The Court will want to know about your sleeping arrangements, whether you divided up any financial accounts and if you continued going to family outings together and doing things around the house for each other. You should also be able to explain why you continued living in the same house and if you are going to be moving to another residence.

Filing the application

Once the period of separation has passed, you can then apply for divorce. To do so, you will need to fill out an application for divorce, which needs to include the original and two copies. The application needs to be witnessed by an authorised witness, which can include a Justice of the Peace or a lawyer. You will also need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. If you are filling out the forms as the sole person in the relationship applying for divorce, then you need to complete all of the questions about both you and your partner. If you do not know some of the answers, you just write ‘not known.’

The application can be lodged online or you can post the documents to the Family Law Registry so they can file it. The cost of filing for divorce is $1200. However, you may be eligible for a lower fee of $280 if you meet certain criteria. The requirements to be eligible for a reduced fee include if you hold a concession card, have been granted LegalAid or receive youth allowance. You can also apply for the reduced fee if your income and expenses would mean the full fee would leave you in financial hardship. You can pay the fee online, in person via EFTPOS, by a cheque or money order or by credit card.

What happens next?

After you have sent in the application for divorce, you will need to attend a divorce hearing. You must attend the hearing if you filed the application yourself or if you and your partner have children under 18. At the hearing, you will be asked some questions by the Registrar about your application. If you do have children under 18, they will ask you more questions about the arrangements you both have made for the children, such as where they will live. If the Registrar is under the impression that you have met all of the requirements for divorce, then the Court will accept your application and grant you a divorce. The divorce is then made final one month and one day later.

LegalVision cannot provide legal assistance with this topic. We recommend you contact your local law society.

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