The Family Law Act 1975 established the principle of no-fault divorce in Australian Law.  When granting a divorce the Court does not consider why the marriage ended and the only ground for divorce is that the marriage broke down and there is no reasonable likelihood that the parties will get back together.

The Federal Circuit 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. The granting of a divorce does not determine issues of financial support, property distribution or arrangements for children. It simply recognises that the marriage has ended.

It is very important that you read the step-by-step guide What you need to know and the Checklist provided in the Application for Divorce Kit before you file.

If you file the application by yourself as a sole applicant you will be required to serve the application on your spouse, once it is filed with the Court  – for more information on service go to How do I serve a divorce?

It is very important that you read the step-by-step guide What you need to know and the Checklist provided in the Application for Divorce Kit before you file.

If you file the application by yourself as a sole applicant you will be required to serve the application on your spouse, once it is filed with the Court  – for more information on service go to How do I serve a divorce?

If you file the application together with your spouse as joint applicants, you are not required to serve the documents.

Seeking legal advice

You can obtain legal advice to understand your rights and responsibilities before applying for a divorce or other applications in relation to a divorce. A lawyer can help explain how the law applies to your case. The Family Relationships Advice Line (FRAL) can help you with free legal advice and information about services available to assist anyone with family relationships issues, including information relating to family law proceedings. Call 1800 050 321 or if you are overseas +61 7 3423 6878. Court staff cannot provide you with legal advice.

You can apply for a divorce in Australia if either you or your spouse can answer yes to one of the following criteria:

  • are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or grant of Australian citizenship. (If you have been granted citizenship you will need to file a photocopy of your certificate), or
  • regard Australia as home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely. (You will need to provide a photocopy of a valid visa or your passport showing the date of arrival at least one year prior), or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce. (You will need to provide a photocopy of a valid visa or your passport showing the date of arrival at least one year prior).

If you are currently living overseas and meet the above criteria, you must provide an address for service in Australia. 

If you use your spouse’s address as your address for service you should provide an affidavit verifying that you are separated, but your address for service is the same.

If you use your spouse’s address as your address for service you should provide an affidavit verifying that you are separated, but your address for service is the same.

 You can sign and have the application and/or affidavit witnessed before a Notary Public or the appropriate delegated officer at an Australian embassy/consulate. You will need to make your own inquiries to arrange this. 

You can apply for a divorce in Australia if you have been separated for a period of at least twelve months.  When you apply for a divorce you will need to show that:

  • You were married by providing a photocopy of your marriage certificate. If you were married overseas and meet the criteria at Part C of the application and your marriage certificate is not in English you will need to provide the certificate translated to English and attach a photocopy of the original certificate plus the translation 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 services.
  • You were married by providing a photocopy of your marriage certificate. If you were married overseas and meet the criteria at Part C of the application and your marriage certificate is not in English you will need to provide the certificate translated to English and attach a photocopy of the original certificate plus the translation 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 services.
  • You have been separated for at least 12 months and one day – this information is required at question 14 of the application. You are not required to provide evidence at the time of the application. If there is a dispute about the separation date you may be required to provide evidence at a later stage. 
  • Your marriage has broken down and there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together – this information is required at question 15 of the application.

Children

If there are children of the marriage 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, contact with father/mother and if no contact, why?, financial support provided by the father/mother if not, why not?  

Marriages under two years

If you have been married less than two years from the date of marriage to the date of applying to the Court you will need to file a counselling certificate with your application – for more information see the fact sheet Have you been married for less than two years?

If you have been married less than two years from the date of marriage to the date of applying to the Court you will need to file a counselling certificate with your application – 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 discuss the possibility of reconciliation with your spouse. To arrange counselling contact FRAL on 1800 050 321. 

If you are unable to attend counselling, you will need to obtain permission from the Court to apply for a divorce by filing an affidavit setting out why you and your spouse have not attended counselling.

If you are unable to attend counselling, you will need to obtain permission from the Court to apply for a divorce by filing an affidavit setting out why you and your spouse have not attended counselling.

 You should file this affidavit with your application for divorce so the Court can consider the information provided by you. This could be because you cannot locate your spouse and you should include what attempts you have made to find them or they refuse to attend or there may be special circumstances e.g. family violence and it is not safe for you to attend counselling.

Separated and living under the same roof in the last 12 months

If you have been separated and living in the same house in the 12 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 the fact sheet Separated but living under the one roof for more information.

If you have been separated and living in the same house in the 12 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 the fact sheet Separated but living under the one roof for more information.

 If you are filing a joint application, both parties will need to prepare and file separate affidavits. In both types of applications (sole and joint) you should also ask a third person to prepare an affidavit to corroborate your evidence. 

Overseas divorce – you can apply for a divorce overseas. Australia will recognise a divorce if it was effected in accordance with the laws of that country – refer to s.104(7) of the Family Law Act 1975.

How do I file an application for divorce?

You can electronically file an application using the online interactive form on the Commonwealth Courts Portal in most circumstances. 

See Electronically file an application for more information.

See Electronically file an application for more information.

 Note if you have any portal related queries, email support@comcourts.gov.au or contact us by Live Chat.

OR by completing and posting the following forms and attachments to a family law registry for filing – you must file the application within 12 months of it being witnessed.

OR by completing and posting the following forms and attachments to a family law registry for filing – you must file the application within 12 months of it being witnessed.

  1. Application for divorce (original plus two photocopies) signed at part G and sworn/affirmed before an authorised witness – see information below.
  2. Application for divorce (original plus two photocopies) signed at part G and sworn/affirmed before an authorised witness – see information below.
  3. One photocopy of the marriage certificate (not required to be certified). See information above if your marriage certificate is not in English.
  4. Any other documents relevant to your application (e.g. citizenship certificate/copy of visa). You should provide three copies of each.

Note: If you complete the form as a sole applicant you should complete all the questions that relate to both you and your spouse. You need to answer all the questions in both columns. If you do not know an answer relating to your spouse and have made all attempts to find the answer, insert ‘not known’.

Who can witness the application?

You will need to swear or affirm the signature page of the application before an accepted witness. Accepted witnesses in all states and territories are a Justice of the Peace (JP) or a lawyer. Each state and territory, except for NSW, has legislation in relation to other accepted witnesses. For more information on other accepted witnesses you should check with the state or territory justice department. Go to Justices of the Peace to find a JP near you.

If you are overseas, a Notary Public, an Australian Diplomatic/Consular Officer or any person (e.g. JP/lawyer) who is authorised to administer an oath or affirmation in that country (certified to be so qualified by an Australian diplomatic officer) can witness an application. You will need to make your own arrangements for this service.

How much will it cost to file an application for divorce?

$845 or you may be eligible for a reduced fee of $280 – please refer to the Guidelines for Reduced Fee.  

If you are eligible to pay for a reduced fee, please file Application for reduction of payment of application for divorce - general (attach photocopy of documentary evidence – front and back)

If payment of the full fee will cause you financial hardship you can apply for a reduced fee – please file Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity - financial hardship.

$845 or you may be eligible for a reduced fee of $280 – please refer to the Guidelines for Reduced Fee.  

If you are eligible to pay for a reduced fee, please file Application for reduction of payment of application for divorce - general (attach photocopy of documentary evidence – front and back)

If payment of the full fee will cause you financial hardship you can apply for a reduced fee – please file Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity - financial hardship.

Note: To be eligible for a fee reduction for a joint application, both yourself and your spouse must qualify. If only one spouse qualifies, then the full fee applies. If it is a sole application for Divorce, then only the Applicant needs to qualify for the reduction.

Mode of payment:

  • Payment online if you eFile.
  • Payment in person by EFTPOS, debit card or credit card
  • Cheque or money order  made payable to 'Family Court and Federal Circuit Court' 
  • Credit card payment form – Visa or MasterCard.
  • Credit card payment form – Visa or MasterCard.