For the court to grant a divorce it must be satisfied the relationship has broken down irretrievably. This is evidenced by separation for a period of twelve months.

When you make an application for divorce it can be either jointly with your former spouse or a sole application. If your application is made jointly with your spouse, then you can avoid having to attend court for the hearing of your application.

The process of applying for a divorce can be straightforward and many people do their own. However, it can be complicated if there are children of the relationship under 18, or if there are issues with service of the application on your former spouse. A further complicating factor can arise in circumstances where parties have been separated but living under the same roof. In such circumstances advice and representation is recommended.

Defacto and Same Sex Relationships

The Family Law Act recognises your relationship if you live together as a couple regardless of your sex. Defacto relationships are treated differently from marriage in that if the existence of such a relationship or the length of the relationship is in dispute, then proof will be required and the court may have to make a decision on the issue.

Once a relationship is found to exist, parties to defacto relationships are treated no differently under the Family Law Act to parties who are married.

Another distinguishing feature between defacto relationships and marriage is that where there is a defacto relationship, parties have two years from the date of separation, within which to commence court proceedings for a property settlement. Whereas, in a marriage, parties have twelve months from the date the divorce order comes into effect to commence court proceedings for a property settlement.

In circumstances where parties have not finalised their property settlements within the required statutory limitation periods, they will need to seek the leave of the court in order to have the court hear and determine their matter.