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.
You need to satisfy the Court that you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months, and there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life. It is possible to live together in the same residence and still be separated.
If you apply for a divorce together with your spouse, it is a joint application and you and your spouse are joint applicants. If you apply for a divorce by yourself, you are a sole applicant and your spouse is the respondent.
You may prepare your own divorce application or ask a lawyer to do it for you.
Note: Same-sex couples whose marriages are recognised can access Australia's divorce system if they meet the requirements for divorce under the Family Law Act 1975, regardless of when the marriage was solemnised. See Marriage equality in Australia on the Attorney-General's Department website and the Fact Sheet, Family Law implications of the recognition of same-sex marriages for further information.
Applications for Divorce (Same-sex couples) can not be completed online at this stage. Please contact the National Enquiry Centre for more information.
Before you apply (select yes or no to proceed to next step)
To be eligible to apply for a divorce in Australia, you or your spouse must answer yes to at least one of the following:
- Regard Australia as your home and intend to live indefinitely in Australia - lawfully present in Australia and intend to continue living in Australia.
- Are an Australian citizen by birth or descent - born in Australia or outside Australia and at least one parent was an Australian citizen, your birth was registered in Australia.
- Are an Australian citizen by grant of an Australian Citizenship.
- Live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce - have lived continually in Australia for a period of 12 months immediately prior to filing for divorce, not including overseas holidays or business trips.
Do you or the other party meet one of these requirements?
If the eligible party is relying on a citizenship certificate or valid visa entitlements you will need to provide proof to the court by either of the following documents:
- Your citizenship certificate.
- Your passport showing the date of arrival at least one year prior and a valid or current visa.
The fact that you were married in Australia is not grounds enough to apply for a divorce in Australia, you must answer yes to one of the above criteria.
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 and your spouse should prepare and file affidavits with your application verifying that you are still separated and why your address for service is the same.
Have you been separated for at least 12 months and 1 day?
Do you have your marriage certificate?
The marriage certificate you provide is not required to be an original or certified.
You can provide the certificate provided by Births Deaths and Marriages or your ceremonial certificate.
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.
Has your marriage broken down and there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together?
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.
If you have met the criteria above read the following information which is relevant to you before you apply.
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.
It is important to obtain some independent legal advice in relation to your situation. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. A lawyer may also be able to help you reach an agreement without going to court. The court is unable to provide legal advice because to do so could seriously compromise the court's ability to impartially determine a case if a person then applies to the court seeking orders.
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). You should advise FRAL that you are seeking legal advice and they will take your details and a lawyer will call you back. FRAL will advise you of a timeframe on the call back, you should advise if it is urgent.
Alternatively, the Australian government funds a range of legal assistance services that may be able to assist you, including Legal Aid Commissions and individual Community Legal Centres, which offer free and low cost advice. Information to assist with finding legal services is available from the Attorney-General's Department website.
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.
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.
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 of the child/ren, contact with father/mother and if no contact, why?, financial support provided by the father/mother 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.
If you file the application together with your spouse as joint applicants you are not required to serve the documents.
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 are unable to effect service on your spouse, even after you have taken all reasonable steps to locate him/her, see Can't locate your spouse below.
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 him/her, you can apply for an order to dispense with service or for substituted service.
See: Cannot serve the divorce documents section of the How do I serve a divorce page.
Court attendance 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 or you have indicated that you wish to attend in question 2(a) of 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 above. 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. You should bring all documents with you to court including a copy of your application and service documents.
If it is difficult for you to attend in person you can ask the court to appear by telephone. You should request this using the Telephone/Video link attendance request form which can be eFiled. See r.25.11 FCCR 2001 for more information. If your request to attend by telephone is not confirmed you should follow up by email.
If you are required to attend the hearing see tips for your court hearing and the court tour video which provides a guide to the courtroom and court etiquette.
$865 (or $290 if you are eligible for a reduced fee. To see if you are eligible go to Guidelines for fee reduction).
If you are eligible for a reduction of payment of divorce fee — general, you will need to attach a copy of documentary evidence (both sides).
Helpful Hint: If you are eligible for a reduction of payment of divorce fee — general because you meet the guidelines above (e.g. hold a health care card) you can complete the online interactive Application for Divorce.
If you are not eligible for a reduction of payment of divorce fee — general, but payment of the fee will cause you financial hardship you can complete the Application for reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity - financial hardship. Your application will then be considered by the court. For further information, see the publication Guidelines for reduced fee - divorce and decree of nullity application.
Note: If you are not eligible, but seek a reduction of payment of divorce fee due to financial hardship you cannot eFile. See contact information below on the options available.
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.
Helpful Hint: Did you know that you can purchase a reloadable prepaid Visa debit card from the post office for a norminal fee?
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.
To apply for a divorce register now and complete the online interactive Application for Divorce.
If you have not registered for the Commonwealth Courts Portal visit the How do I register for the Commonwealth Courts Portal and eFile an application for divorce? page:
If you are already registered for the Commonwealth Courts Portal and ready to apply for your divorce:
If you need to eFile further documents to support your application for divorce, you can find more information on the How do I eFile further documents to support my application for divorce? page.
If you have a divorce query or you cannot eFile you should contact us by live chat or by email during business hours.
Note: If you cannot eFile or you need to apply for a reduction of payment of divorce — financial hardship you should contact us so we can provide you with the appropriate forms.