Once you file your Application for divorce with the Court, the hearing details will be available on:
- Commonwealth Courts Portal (see ‘Court Events and Orders’ section); and
- The court list from 4pm (AEDT) the day prior to the hearing
The details will include the date and time of your divorce hearing, the name of the registrar who will hear and determine your application, and the details for attending the electronic hearing.
Divorce hearings are conducted electronically (unless otherwise advised) before a deputy registrar or judicial registrar of the Court. This means you will not need to attend the Court registry in person, or have a lawyer appear on your behalf. You will need access to a telephone to be able to attend the hearing electronically. You will not need to download any application to attend the divorce hearing electronically.
Do I have to attend the divorce hearing?
Court attendance (electronically) is only required if:
- you have filed a sole application and there is a child of the marriage* aged under 18 years at the time of filing
- you have indicated that you wish to attend in the application
- either party has objected to the divorce being heard in the absence of the parties, or
- the respondent files a Response to divorce opposing the application.
Unless otherwise advised by the Court, you are also required to attend the hearing if you are applying for an order for substituted service or a dispensation of service (by filing an Application in a Proceeding), in circumstances where you cannot find the respondent to serve the court documents – see information about Service at How do I serve a divorce?.
It is advisable to attend your hearing if you are required to provide additional affidavit material to explain particular circumstances of your relationship which may impact the outcome of your application, such as:
- If there has been a period of separation under the same roof
- If you have been married for less than two years, or
- If there has been a change in circumstances since you filed your application.
You should also keep a copy of all court documents, including your application and service document, and have them with you during your hearing so that you can answer any questions the Registrar may have when considering your application.
If your spouse (the respondent) has completed and filed a Response to divorce, but does not oppose the application, they do not need to attend the hearing. If they have opposed the application in the Response to divorce, they must attend the divorce hearing to explain why they wish to oppose the divorce order being made.
* A child of the marriage includes:
- any child of you and your spouse, including children born before the marriage or after separation
- any child adopted by you and your spouse, or
- any child who was treated as a member of your family prior to your final separation, for example, a step-child or foster child.
What if I want to attend the hearing?
Divorce hearings are conducted electronically. If you wish to attend the hearing, even when you are not required to, you can indicate this in your application. The details for electronic attendance will be available on the Commonwealth Courts Portal following filing (see Court Events and Orders section), and on the court list from 4pm (AEDT) the day before the hearing.
What if I can't attend the hearing?
If you are required to attend the hearing and you or your legal representative is unable to attend the hearing, you will need to write to the Registrar by email to NationalDivorce@fcfcoa.gov.au seeking an adjournment of the hearing, and explaining the reasons why you are unable to attend. Please note that the Court processes a number of divorce applications daily so it may not be possible to reschedule your hearing date, unless in exceptional circumstances.
Attending the Court
Divorce hearings are conducted electronically. Even though you do not need to physically attend the court, all the usual courtroom procedures apply.
See Attending court for more information about attending your court hearing, including etiquette and tips and information about electronic hearings.
If I don’t attend the hearing how will I know if my divorce is granted?
Even if your attendance is not required, your divorce will only be granted if all of the requirements for a divorce are met. For a sole application, one of the key requirements is proof that the application has been properly served on the respondent in accordance with the Rules of Court.
If your divorce is not granted, you will be contacted by the Court explaining the reason your divorce was not granted, and what further steps are required by you to ensure the divorce will be granted by the Registrar on the next date.
If the divorce is granted, it will be finalised one month and one day later, unless a special order is made by the Court to shorten that time. You will be able to access your divorce order (proof of your divorce) online via the Commonwealth Courts Portal, the day after it is finalised.
Practice directions are procedural guidelines issued by the Court. They complement legislation, rules and regulations. They provide specific direction about the practice and procedure that must be followed in certain types of proceedings.
Practice directions are issued by the Chief Justice/Chief Judge upon advice of judges of the Court, pursuant to the Court’s inherent power to control its own processes, as well as the power under the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 for the Court to give directions about the practice and procedure to be followed in a proceeding.
In general, practice directions are issued to:
- complement particular legislative provisions or rules of court
- set out more detailed procedures for particular types of proceedings, and
- notify parties and their lawyers of matters which require their attention.
Below are links to the practice directions that apply to this area of law: