Divorce applications in Australia can be made without a lawyer. However, many people prefer a family law solicitor assist them with the process of finalising their divorce.
Our fixed fee divorce service gives you peace of mind knowing that your divorce application is managed by a qualified lawyer, while keeping costs to a minimum.
To determine if we can offer you a fixed fee divorce, we will ask you:
- Have you been married for at least two years?
- Have you already separated from your spouse?
- Have you lived separately and apart for at least 12 months?
- Does your spouse consent to the divorce?
- Are there care arrangements in place for any children who are currently under 18 years of age?
- Are you and your spouse Australian citizens or residents, with Australian mailing addresses?
- Is your marriage certificate in English?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, there may be additional costs or steps required, which you can read about below.
If you can answer yes to all the above questions, our fixed fee divorce service may be available to you. You can contact us right now to get started.
To begin the process, we will undertake an initial consultation with you at our office at our normal rates. The initial consultation fee will then be deducted from the total cost of your fixed fee divorce.
In support of your Application for Divorce we will also need from you:
- A copy of your official marriage certificate
- A copy of any previous orders made between you and your spouse (e.g. property, parenting)
- A copy of any other orders currently in place (e.g. domestic violence)
- Proof of identity and Australian residency (e.g. passport, drivers license)
We can proceed with the initial consultation and preparing your Application for Divorce without all the above, however we will need all those details before it can be finalised and submitted.
Fees for Divorce Applications
Our fixed fee divorce service includes:
- An initial consultation with you to collect information and verify that you can proceed with a divorce application
- Preparing a draft Application for Divorce for your approval
- Serving your spouse or their solicitor with the Application for Divorce
- Filing your Application for Divorce with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia
The fees are:
- Our professional fees – $880 incl GST
- File opening fee – $39.77
- Court filing fee – $910 (the Court offers a reduced fee to eligible concession card holders)
- Total cost – $1829.77
Although most divorces fall within the scope of our fixed fee service, there may be additional costs in some cases, such as:
- Acquiring a copy of your marriage certificate from another country
- Translation of non-English marriage certificates
- Requiring the use of a process server to serve documents to your spouse
- Your spouse refusing to sign the application or accept documents
- Affidavits to provide additional supporting information to the Court
- Attendance at Court by a solicitor
In any case, we will discuss any additional costs with you during the initial consultation.
What if we haven’t been married for at least two years?
If you have been married for less than two years your options are:
- Attend counselling with a Court approved counsellor, either in person or by telephone, to discuss the reasons for divorce and the possibility of reconciliation (getting back together). Go to www.familyrelationships.gov.au or call 1800 050 321 to find a counsellor. If the counsellor is satisfied, they will issue you a certificate that you can then bring to us to complete your divorce application.
- File an affidavit with your divorce application explaining why you have not attended counselling (e.g. spouse refusing, concerns about domestic violence). We can assist with drafting the affidavit (typically 1 hour of time required) and will discuss these additional fees with you in your appointment.
What if we are not separated yet?
The earliest you can apply for a divorce is 12 months and 1 day from the date you separated from your former partner. The law does allow for couples to try to save their relationship (reconciliation) once, for a period of up to three months, without restarting that 12 months separation time limit again. Any time spent attempting reconciliation is simply added on to the 12-month time limit.
What if we have not lived separately?
Separating doesn’t involve any formal procedures. In most cases, you and your partner simply agree that the marriage (or de facto relationship) is over and physically go your separate ways. However, it is still possible to be separated without living in separate residences. In such cases we can assist you with preparing an affidavit describing your living arrangements while separated. We will discuss these additional fees with you in your appointment.
What if my spouse does not consent to getting divorced?
Australian law uses the principle of “no fault” for divorces. The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievable. Therefore, there is very little wiggle room for your spouse to oppose the divorce. Your spouse may oppose if:
- You have not been separated for 12 months (e.g. they dispute the date of separation)
- The Court does not have jurisdiction (e.g. you are not an Australian citizen or resident for at least 12 months)
If your spouse opposes the divorce, they must file a Response to Divorce with the Court and attend on the date of the Divorce Hearing.
Will arrangements for our children be dealt with as part of our divorce application?
Parenting arrangements are not dealt with by the Court as part of the Application for Divorce.
However, if you have children with your spouse, the Application for Divorce will need to include details of the parenting arrangements for the children. If you have not formalised your parenting arrangements, please ask how we can help.
Will our property settlement be dealt with as part of our divorce application?
Division of property is not dealt with by the Court as part of the Application for Divorce.
Property matters must be settled within 12 months of the Divorce Order taking effect for married persons. Therefore, we recommend that property matters be settled before filing for divorce. Please ask us how we can help.
What if we are not both Australian citizens or residents with Australian mailing addresses?
An Australian mailing address for both you and your spouse are required to be included in your Application for Divorce. If you do not have an Australian mailing address you can use a friend or relative’s address that will forward your mail for you, or use a forwarding service.
If your spouse has no Australian mailing address there may be additional costs involved in completing the Application for Divorce, serving them with documents, or preparing affidavits for the Court outlining our efforts to contact them.
How long does an Application for Divorce take?
After we have received all the required details, we can prepare the Application for Divorce, which usually takes 1-2 weeks if it is a straightforward matter with no delays from the other party signing the application.
The Application for Divorce can be filed no earlier than 12 months and one day from the date of separation. Once the application has been filed with the Court it will be listed for a Divorce Hearing, usually within 6 weeks.
If the divorce is granted, a Divorce Order is issued by the Court one month and one day after the hearing.
So, a straightforward divorce with no delays or other additional factors can usually be completed in about 12 weeks.
Am I eligible for the reduced Court fee?
The Family Court of Australia website has information about eligibility for reduced fees, and states that:
You are entitled to apply for a reduction of divorce fee – General if:
- you hold any of the following cards issued by the Department of Human Services: health care card, pensioner concession card, Commonwealth seniors health card or any other card issued by the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that certifies your entitlement to Commonwealth health concessions, or
- you have been granted Legal Aid, or
- you are receiving youth allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY payments, or
- you are aged 18 or under or an inmate of a prison or otherwise legally detained in a public institution.
Warning: Under the Criminal Code any person who knowingly makes an untrue representation or statement to obtain a benefit or advantage from the Commonwealth is guilty of an offence and, if found guilty, can be fined or imprisoned.
Note: Where there is more than one applicant to an application, all applicants must meet the requirements for an exemption/reduction or the full fee applies.
Will I need to attend Court?
This depends on the details of your divorce.
- If there are no children under the age of 18 years, you are not required to attend Court.
- If there are children under 18 years and you and your spouse are making a joint application (you both agree to the divorce), neither of you are required to attend Court.
- If there are children under 18 years and you are making a sole application (e.g. spouse refuses to sign, or can’t be located), you are required to attend Court. We can attend with you or on your behalf if you are not able to appear yourself. There will be additional fees for one of our solicitors or an agent to attend Court.
When do I need to pay?
Our initial consultation fee is payable at the time of your appointment.
After the initial consultation we will prepare a retainer and costs agreement for you to sign, which will include either:
- The balance of the fees (our fixed fee costs, minus the initial consultation fee)
- A retainer to cover potential additional costs if they were identified during the initial consultation
If you’re ready to proceed call us on (07) 5499 2900 during our office hours of 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, and one of our friendly staff will help you make an appointment.
Or, you can send us a confidential enquiry by email using our contact page.