Follow These 9 Important Steps When Filing for Divorce Online

Sole or joint divorce application form

What does the Family Court of Australia say?

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia have sole jurisdiction over any divorce application and requires a strict application process to be followed before granting a divorce order.

You may apply for a divorce through a sole or joint application. There are different obligations between these options, and here we will be going over the joint application process. If you can, joint applications are usually the best option to make the process as hassle-free as possible. There are several things to keep in mind before you begin the process to ensure you do it right the first time.

Let’s go through jointly applying for a divorce from start to finish.

What You Need To Know Before Filing For Divorce

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for a divorce in Australia, you and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months, and:

  • Be an Australian citizen;
  • Consider Australia to be your permanent home; or
  • Have made Australia your primary residence for 12 months before your divorce application.

If you’ve been married less than two years, you must attend counselling and have a counsellor-provided certificate showing you have satisfied the requirement.

Proof of separation

The Family Court must be satisfied that joint applicants have been separated for at least 12 months to consider a divorce application. This can be tricky because there is no certificate you can receive proving your separation began on a certain date.

Instead, you must be able to provide evidence of your separation. This can be done in various ways, including presenting evidence that you:

  • Keep separate financial accounts;
  • Do not attend social gatherings together;
  • Informed family and friends of the separation;
  • Informed government departments like Centrelink of the separation.

Separation under one roof

One of the best ways to prove you have separated is to live in separate residences. However, your separation may still be recognised even if you continue living in the same home. This situation is called ‘separation under one roof’.

In these circumstances, indicators of your separation can include all of the above but may also include evidence that:

  • There is no continuing sexual relationship (sleeping in separate bedrooms would support this);
  • You don’t share mealtimes with your spouse;
  • You maintain separate friendship circles.

It may seem strange to continue living together if you intend to divorce, but the court recognises there are reasons to do this. For example, it is common for one partner to be less financially well off and have fewer resources available, making remaining in the home the only viable option.

One final thing before we delve into the divorce application process itself.

Find your marriage certificate

This may seem obvious, but not being able to present your marriage certificate can cause a lot of headaches. A ceremonial certificate isn’t acceptable. However, even if you can’t locate it, it can be replaced if necessary. Follow this link to the Queensland government’s guide to applying for a replacement: Queensland Government.

Just note that there is a nominal fee required to receive a replacement.

A foreign marriage certificate

If your marriage certificate is in a foreign language, it must be translated by someone certified by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. Once the translation is complete, the translator must fill out an ‘affidavit translation of marriage certificate’, which should be affirmed by an authorised witness, such as a Justice of the Peace, and attach:

  • The original marriage certificate;
  • The translated certificate;
  • Evidence of the translator’s qualifications.

This affidavit should be submitted along with the divorce application.

Now, on to the divorce application.

Divorce application process

Divorce applications are submitted online, and all the documents are necessary to support your filing. Make sure you have organised any additional documents you will need, including:

  1. Your marriage certificate;
  2. A certified translation of the certificate, if applicable;
  3. Proof of your and your spouse’s citizenship or residency in Australia;
  4. A counselling certificate, if the marriage is less than two years old;
  5. Proof of your separation, if necessary.

Take these 9 steps when filing for a divorce online

Here’s the process, step by step:

  1. Register an account on the Commonwealth courts portal;
  2. Start a new file and select application for divorce;
  3. Make sure the information provided is correct at each step before saving and moving on;
  4. Select print preview to review the completed application;
  5. Upload any additional documents necessary to support the application;
  6. Choose lock and continue once you are sure the application has been filled out accurately;
  7. Print the application;
    • Joint applicants must both sign the Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce)
    • The signatures should be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace
    • Joint applicants may sign separate Affidavits if needed
  8. Upload the signed and witnessed Affidavit;
  9. Pay the filing fee and submit the application.

Joint applicants are not required to attend a court hearing unless they indicate in their application that they wish to.

Once the application has been filed, the family court will review it. If the application is successful, divorce orders take effect after one month and one day.

Court filing fee

Court fees must be paid before an application for divorce is accepted. The full fee is $990. However, you may be eligible for a reduced fee of $330 if you have a valid government concession card, such as a health care card or pensioner concession card. If you are applying jointly, both parties must be eligible.

Applicants receiving Austudy, youth allowance, or ABSTUDY payments may also receive a reduced fee, as well as anyone who can prove financial hardship. The government uses a three-part test to ascertain if the financial hardship concession applies.

Affidavit templates QLD

If the court requires additional information, including a sworn affidavit with your application may be necessary. Any court document or written statement provided to the court must adhere to strict formal standards to be valid.

The links below provide templates for various court forms that can guide how court documents should be laid out, with appropriate wording.

Legal Aid – Sample Forms

Courts – Sample Forms

In conclusion

While it is perfectly possible to apply for a divorce as a sole applicant, a joint application generally makes the process much easier. While the online filing system is streamlined to make divorce applications as simple as possible, getting your submission airtight is important to avoid administrative headaches down the road.

Getting legal help from an experienced family lawyer can be the difference between a simple submission process and a drawn out exercise in correcting easily avoidable mistakes.

Contact us today, so we can make what is already a difficult time as pain-free as possible.

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