The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has the jurisdiction or power to deal with dissolution of marriage (i.e. divorce) under Part VI of the Family Law Act 1975. You may prepare your own divorce application or ask a lawyer to do it for you. Note: Divorce proceedings do not finalise any arrangements regarding children and finances. If you wish to seek these types of orders you will need to file a separate application. See Children and/or Finances and property. 1. Before you start You can apply for a divorce by yourself (sole application) or together with the other party to the marriage (joint application). The same online application is used for both sole and joint applications. Before you start your application it is important to understand whether to file a sole or joint application, as there are different obligations in either case. Choose the headings below for specific information you need to know before starting an application. Sole application At Part A Question 1 you must select whether you are filing the application on your own (sole) or together with the other party (joint). If you make a sole application, you are known as the applicant and the other party is known as the respondent. Only you as the applicant are required to sign the application. The respondent does not need to sign. You will be required to serve the application on the respondent. For more information see How do I serve a divorce. Court attendance is not required if there are no children of the marriage. Court attendance is required if there are children under the age of 18 years. Joint application At Part A Question 1 you must select whether you are filing the application on your own (sole) or together with the other party (joint). For a joint application, both parties are known as joint applicants. If you file a joint application one party completes the application and provides a copy to the other party to review and sign. When you eFile you will be able to print the document at the end of Step 1 and provide a copy to the other party for review. Once you lock the joint application at step 4 you can then print the finalised document for signature. Both applicants must sign the Application. You do not need to serve documents on the other party if you make a joint application. Court attendance is not required if you file a joint application. Court attendance is required if you select to attend at Q2(a). 2. Are you eligible to apply? You must be eligible to apply for a divorce in Australia (select yes or no to proceed to next step) 1. You (or the other party to the marriage) must answer YES to at least one of the following: Were born in Australia or have become an Australian citizen by descent (born outside Australia and at least one parent was an Australian citizen and your birth is registered in Australia). Are an Australian citizen by grant of Australian citizenship (a citizenship certificate will be required). Are lawfully present in Australia and intend to continue living in Australia. You must have been living in Australia for at least the last 12 months - evidence must be provided e.g. your passport showing the date of arrival at least one year prior and a valid or current visa. Do you or the other party to the marriage meet one of these requirements? Yes - Please proceed to the next question No - You do not meet the requirements to be eligible to apply for a divorce in Australia. More information If you are currently living overseas and meet the above criteria, you must provide an address for service in Australia. If you cannot provide an address in Australia and you wish to use your spouse’s address as your address for service you and your spouse should prepare and file an affidavit each with your application verifying that you are still separated and explaining why your address for service is the same. 2. Has your marriage broken down and there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together? Yes - Please proceed to the next question. No - At least one spouse must regard the marriage as over on the date of separation and in some way communicated this to the other spouse. More information This information is required at question 15 of the application. If you are applying on your own, you should not refer to the intention of your spouse unless you can provide further information as to how you knew what your spouse's intention was at the time. You should be prepared to provide the court with information, if it is required, about what happened or what was said on the date of separation to show that one or both of you intended to end the marriage. 3. Have you been separated for 12 months and 1 day or longer? To get a divorce you must have been separated for 12 months and 1 day or longer. Sometimes separated couples are still living together in the same home – see information at the heading below Separated and living at the same address in the last 12 months. Yes - Please proceed to the next question. No - You cannot sign and file the application until you have been separated from your spouse for at least 12 months. For example, if you separated on 7 November 2020 you cannot apply for a divorce until 8 November 2021. More information This information is required at question 14 of the application. You are not required to provide evidence at the time of application, but if the other party disputes the separation date you may be required to provide affidavit evidence at a later stage. 4. Do you have your marriage certificate? If you were married overseas it is important to read More information as you may need to have your marriage certificate translated. Yes - Please proceed to the next question. No - If you do not have your marriage certificate, you must obtain a copy from Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state or territory in which you were married. If you were married overseas you should contact the relevant authority in that country to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate. If, after all reasonable attempts you cannot obtain a copy of your marriage certificate you will need to prepare and file an affidavit with your application setting out why you are unable to provide the certificate. You should seek legal advice about how to do this. The affidavit needs to explain the details of your marriage and the reasons why you cannot get a copy of your marriage certificate. More information If you were married in Australia you must provide a marriage certificate. You can provide the certificate provided by Births Deaths and Marriage or your ceremonial certificate. If you do not have a marriage certificate contact the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages in your state or territory. It is important to make sure that the names at Q.13 are the same as on your marriage certificate otherwise you may be required to provide further evidence. If you were married overseas and your marriage certificate is not in English you will need to have the certificate translated and attach both documents to an Affidavit of Translation of Marriage Certificate from the translator. The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd (NAATI) has a directory of NAATI accredited and recognised practitioners who offer translating and interpreting services. If you are unable to obtain a marriage certificate from overseas you must provide an Affidavit setting out the details of the marriage and the reasons why you are unable to provide the certificate. 3. Getting legal advice If you need help to complete the application or are unsure about whether you are eligible to file for divorce, you should obtain legal advice. A lawyer can also explain how the law applies in your case. The Court is unable to provide legal advice because to do so could seriously compromise the Court's ability to impartially determine a case. The Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) can help you with free legal advice and information about services available to assist anybody with family relationship issues - call 1800 050 321(+61 7 3423 6878 if you are overseas). For more information see Legal help. 4. Things you may need to consider Check each of the headings below in case they are relevant to you. Each heading has information you may need before you apply. Married less than 2 years If you have been married less than two years you will need to file a counselling certificate. For more information see the fact sheet Have you been married for less than two years? To obtain a certificate you will need to attend counselling. To arrange counselling contact the Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) on 1800 050 321. If you are unable to attend counselling with your spouse you will need to file an affidavit as per the fact sheet. Separated and living under the same roof in the last 12 months If you have been separated and living in the same residence for any part of the twelve months prior to filing your application you will need to provide extra evidence to prove that there has been a change in the marriage by preparing and filing an affidavit. See Separated but living under one roof for more information. If you are filing a joint application both parties should file an affidavit. In both types of applications (sole and joint) you should also ask a third person to file an affidavit to corroborate your evidence. Children If there are children of the marriage who are under 18 years of age it is important to provide particulars of the arrangements in Part F of the application including housing, if not at school - care arrangements, schooling - grade and progress - care before and after school, health of the child/ren, contact with each parent and if no contact, why?, financial support provided for the child/ren if not, why not? 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. Can't locate your spouse The divorce application asks for your spouse's address for service. If you are unable to locate your spouse, even after you have taken all reasonable steps to locate them you can put their address as 'unknown'. You will need to upload a further application seeking an order to dispense with service or for substituted service. For more information see: Cannot serve the divorce documents section of the How do I serve a divorce page. Change of name from married or maiden name If the name you use now is different from your married name or maiden name you will need to file an affidavit explaining the difference in names. Living overseas If you are living overseas you may still be eligible to apply for a divorce in Australia. The Court does not have the power to grant a divorce unless you or your spouse meet the eligibility criteria. If you or your spouse do not meet the criteria you will not be able to apply for a divorce in Australia and you should make inquiries with the relevant authorities in the country where you are situated. If you are eligible to apply for a divorce in Australia, but are situated overseas you must provide an address in Australia at question 10 of the application. If you are lodging a joint application both parties must provide an address in Australia. This address can be the address of a family member or friend who is willing to pass on any served documents served to this address. You can enter your overseas address at question 9. Married overseas Parties to a divorce that were married overseas can apply for a divorce in Australia as long as one of the parties to the divorce meets the eligibility criteria and the marriage was solemnised overseas according to the law of that country and a marriage certificate was produced. 5. How much will it cost A fee of $940 is payable or you may be eligible for a reduced fee of $310. To see if you are eligible go to Guidelines for fee reduction. If you are eligible for a reduced fee you will need to provide evidence. For example if you hold a health care card, you will need to provide a photocopy of your card (both sides). If you are filing a sole application only the applicant needs to be eligible for the reduced fee. If you are filing a joint application both parties must be eligible for the reduced fee - if only one party is eligible the full fee applies. If you are not eligible for the reduced fee, but payment of the full fee will cause you financial hardship you can apply for the reduced fee due to your financial hardship. You should complete the Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity - financial hardship for consideration. The filing fee is payable at the time of filing the application using a Mastercard or Visa credit/debit card via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. If you DO NOT have a credit/debit card you can buy a pre-paid debit card from various retail outlets for a nominal fee. 6. Filing your application TIP: See the flowchart How to apply for Divorce which includes checklists of key documents you may need to file in support of your application, and helpful links to other resources that may assist. Applications for divorce should be eFiled online using the Commonwealth Courts Portal. This allows you, within the Court’s secure website, to access your court file, the ability to eFile and access court orders 24/7. You will need access to a scanner, printer and a visa or mastercard. If you are unable to eFile contact the Court by email so we can provide you with the appropriate forms. You can apply electronically if you are eligible for a reduced fee or applying for a reduced fee due to financial hardship. Registering for the Commonwealth Courts Portal To electronically file or access court files on the Commonwealth Courts Portal a user must first register. Select the relevant topic below for more information: If you are not registered for the Portal To register for the portal go to www.comcourts.gov.au and click on New users can register now to create your individual username and password. After registration you will receive an auto-generated email with your username and temporary password. You will be prompted to create a new password and accept the terms and conditions. Once the registration process is finalised you will be able to print your orders. You will also receive an email with information about how to navigate through the portal and print your orders. If you were already registered and we are providing access to your file, you will receive an email from us setting out how to navigate the portal and print your orders. It is important to read steps 1 to 10 at How do I start eFiling the application once I am registered in the How do I file section below to get started. If you are already registered If you are already registered for the Commonwealth Courts Portal, log in and go to Start a new file even if you have previous proceedings. Divorce is dealt with separately to other types of family law proceedings. Even if you are already registered it is important to read steps 1 to 10 at How do I start eFiling the application once I am registered in the How do I file section below to get started. If you are already registered, but do not have access to your file email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, date of birth, name of the other party, file number and portal user name (if known) so we can link you to your file. How do you start eFiling the application once you are registered? Note; Make sure you have your marriage certificate and any other required documents scanned and saved on your computer where you can find them easily. Select Start a new file even if you have had previous family law proceedings, divorce is dealt with separately to parenting and property proceedings. Tick a box to confirm whether you are filing on behalf of a law firm or on your own behalf and select Continue the Confirm (if required). Read the eFiling obligations and tick the box to confirm you understand and agree to the eFiling obligations then select Confirm. Select Application for divorce from the drop down box then Continue. Select the appropriate court then Continue. If you are located in Western Australia you should contact the Family Court of Western Australia where divorces in Western Australia are only filed. Add in a title and a description so you can easily find the application when you save it and if you need to go back into it at another time then select Create then OK to confirm. Note: applications remain on the system for 90 days and are then automatically deleted for security purposes. Complete Step 1 Parts A - F - selecting Save at each page. When you have completed all the parts you should have green ticks against all the headings. If you don't, go back and check each page is complete. Select print preview to look at the document and check the contents. It is important to check the information in the application is correct at this stage before you lock the application at step 3. At Step 2 upload any required or additional documents. The documents to be uploaded will depend on how you answered the questions in Part A - F. At Step 3 select Lock and Continue - you are unable to make any changes once you have locked the application. The application will be deleted after 90 days if there is no activity. At Step 4 print the application. You will need to sign the Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce). If you are lodging a sole application just the applicant must sign the affidavit before a lawyer or a Justice of the Peace (JP). If you are lodging a joint application, both parties must sign the affidavit before a lawyer or a JP. The affidavit can be signed by both parties at the same time or separately, but both signatures must be witnessed by a lawyer or JP (if the signatures are witnessed at the same time it can be by the same lawyer or JP). If both parties are unable to sign the affidavit, then two affidavits can be uploaded together. Helpful hint: It is important if you have your affidavit witnessed by a Justice of the Peace that the JP provides their JP number. At Step 5 upload the signed Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce). Note: just the Affidavit of eFiling is required, the application does not need to be uploaded again. At Step 6 download the brochure Marriage Families and Separation. This is a compulsory document that must be read by all parties. If you have filed a sole application you must include this document when you serve the documents on the other party. At Step 7 submit the application and pay the filing fee (if you did not apply for a reduction of fees at Q.1) then select the state and location where you would like the divorce to be dealt with. You will be required to attend if you lodge a sole application and there are children under the age of 18 years or you select you wish to attend at Q.2. Select a court date. All divorces are listed in court even if you are not required to attend. The dates provided here are the next available dates and cannot be brought forward. If you filed a sole application for divorce you are now required to serve a copy of the application and other associated documents on the respondent. See How do I serve a divorce for more information. To print the application go to your file then select + Documents filed and select the PDF icon on the right hand side next to the document. If you filed a joint application you should provide a copy of the application to the other party for their records. Once you have submitted the application, the Court will check the documents are complete and meet the filing requirements. If the documents do not meet the requirements for filing you will be contacted and asked to rectify any errors. Whether the grounds for divorce have been met or the information provided in the application is sufficient for the divorce to be granted will be determined at the court date. If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse you will need to apply to the court for a service order. For more information see the section What if I am unable to locate my spouse? in the How do I serve a divorce page. 7. What happens next? Every application for divorce is different, depending on your circumstances you may be asked to file further documents. If you filed a sole application, you will be required to serve your divorce. Select the relevant topic below for more information: eFiling further documents You may need to file additional documents to support your application for divorce that you were not required to file when you completed the application e.g. further affidavits. For help see How do I eFile further documents to support my application for divorce? Service If you file the application together with your spouse you are joint applicants and you are not required to serve the other party. If you file the application by yourself as a sole applicant, you are required to serve the Application for Divorce on the other party. See How do I serve a divorce for details and a helpful video. If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse you will need to apply to the court for a service order. For more information see the section What if I am unable to locate my spouse? in the How do I serve a divorce page. 8. Do you need to go to Court? Attending the divorce hearing is only required: 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. You should attend if you are applying for an order for substituted service or a dispensation of service in the circumstances when you cannot find the respondent to serve the court documents. See information about Service at How do I serve a divorce. It is also advisable to attend if you are required to provide additional affidavit material to explain circumstances such as separation under the same roof/ married less than two years and other situations which may impact on the outcome of your matter. Make sure you have all the documents with you for the electronic court hearing including a copy of your application and service documents. All divorce hearings are held electronically. If you are required to attend the court hearing and you have not received dial in details you should email the registry directly where the divorce is taking place. All Court registries have a generic email address. Type the name of the registry where the divorce is taking place followed by @fcfcoa.gov.au – for example email@example.com. You should include your file number, name, date of birth and name of the other party. 9. Finalising your divorce Once 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. Helpful Hint - You can log into the Portal and choose to receive a notification email to tell you when your divorce has been granted. It will advise you that it will be finalised in one month and one working day later and give you instructions on how to print your divorce order. For information on how to do this see Electing to receive email notification for any open applications on the How do I navigate through the Portal page. Your divorce order will be available for you to download from the Commonwealth Courts Portal the next working day after the order has become final. Go to www.comcourts.gov.au to log in. Go to the Available Files tab then select the All tab and choose your file. Under the Additional options for this file heading select List of orders. Select View Orders in the right hand column in the row next to the Hearing divorce event type to open the digital order. Print. It is recommended that you print the divorce order double sided and in colour. The divorce order has an electronic seal and signature and is an original order. This divorce order is the only official and original record the court issues and is evidence that a divorce order has been made. Further reading How to apply for a divorce (pdf) This flowchart shows you how to apply for a divorce in the Court, whether you are doing so together with your spouse, or on your own. It also includes checklists of key documents you may need to provide to the Court in support of your application, and helpful links to other resources that may assist.