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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448

Kerry White

Armstrong Legal are Canberra divorce law advisers and Family Law specialists. We also provide related services including assistance with child custody and child residence.

In Australia, a divorce may be obtained in either the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Court. For more advice on divorce in Australia, go to the Family Court website.

The requirements for obtaining a divorce in Australia:

Marriage - You must first satisfy the court that you have a valid marriage. A marriage certificate, with a sworn translation into English, if necessary, will suffice. If you do not have a copy of a marriage certificate or require translation, we can usually arrange it for you. If your marriage certificate is not available, the court may require you to give some alternate evidence of the marriage.

Jurisdiction - The court has the power to grant a divorce if either party has one of the following attributes:

  • Regards Australia as home;
  • Intends to live in Australia indefinitely;
  • Has lived his or her whole life in Australia;
  • Is an Australian citizen; or
  • Normally lives in Australia and has lived in Australia for the 12 months prior to the making of the application for divorce.

Irretrievable breakdown of the relationship is required

The court must be satisfied that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. A period of separation of 12 months immediately before filing the application satisfies the court of this fact. A couple may be separated and still live together provided they satisfy the court that they are not living as husband and wife. That is to say, their relationship has been reduced to sharing accommodation. If a couple reconcile during the period of separation, the separation does not have to recommence provided any reconciliation or reconciliations do not total more than a total of three months and those three months do not count as part of the period of 12 months of separation. The Court is normally satisfied that separation has taken place by the applicant swearing as to the separation on the application for divorce.

Making arrangements for the children

The court will not grant a divorce unless it is satisfied that appropriate arrangements for any children are in place. That does not mean those arrangements are formal, nor does it mean that there is no dispute, but rather that at the time of the divorce hearing, the children are being appropriately cared and provided for. We have provided further information and advice on child custody here.

Filing the application and payment of divorce fees

An application for divorce is required to be completed, signed by the applicant before a divorce lawyer or justice of the peace and filed with the correct filing fee paid. Some applicants may qualify for a waiver of the filing fee.

Giving a copy of the application to the other party

After the application form has been filed, a hearing date will usually be set approximately eight weeks from filing. On filing of the divorce application, a sealed copy is returned by the court. That copy must be personally given to the other party in the divorce, by someone who is over the age of 16 years other than the applicant, at least 28 days before the divorce hearing. That person must then sign an affidavit to the effect that the application was given to the defendant, when and what was said. The reason for this is so that the court can be satisfied that the respondent is aware of the application and the hearing date.

After being satisfied of the above matters, the court will generally grant a decree nisi which is stage 1 of a divorce. Stage 2 is the decree becoming absolute. A decree will generally become absolute 1 month and 1 day after the decree nisi was granted.

At Armstrong Legal Canberra we have specialist divorce lawyers to assist people through the difficulties associated with the breakdown of relationships and issues in relation to marriage breakdown and divorce.


where to next?

Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448

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