How to Apply for Divorce in Victoria

divorce document on table

Wondering how to apply for a divorce in Victoria? It’s an unfortunate fact that marriages sometimes break down and people need to be able to separate from their spouses in a legal sense as well as an emotional one. The process of getting a divorce is simple and in most cases won’t require any lengthy legal proceedings.

What are the requirements to get divorced?

A marriage is a legally binding contract and when you get divorced you need to demonstrate that your marriage has reached a point where staying together isn’t a possibility.

It doesn’t need to be anyone’s fault that the marriage has broken down; the court doesn’t lay blame when approving a divorce. Rather, they just need to see that there is no chance that you and your spouse can stay married.

Most couples will live apart for at least 12 months prior to applying for divorce. This is the easiest way to demonstrate that you have been separated for that period of time, which is a requirement for a divorce application.

If you are unable to live in separate houses or you choose to continue living under the same roof while still being separated, the court will require evidence from an independent party that confirms the separation has taken place. This can be a friend or family member.

How to prepare a divorce application

Applications for Divorce can be found on the Family Law Courts website. The process of preparing an application can be done together as a couple (a Joint Application) or separately (a Sole Application). Many people choose to have this paperwork done by an experienced family lawyer.

You will need to arrange for a witness to sign your application. Witnesses can include a Justice of the Peace (JP), an officer of the court, a police officer, and other designated people.

You will also need to make an affirmation that your application is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. This is to avoid people making false claims on their divorce applications.

How to file a divorce application

Filing a divorce application in Victoria is easy. You can file for divorce in person, by post, or even online.

To file in person, you need to attend the Family Law Courts registry. Here you will be able to file your application.

You can also post it to the Family Law Courts using registered post or use the Commonwealth Courts Portal eFile system. Files will need to be signed, so a printer and scanner is advisable.

Once you’ve submitted your application, it will be sent to the Court. All documents will be checked to make sure they are complete and don’t contain any errors. If anything is not complete, you’ll be notified and asked to amend any errors prior to your application proceeding.

What happens at a divorce hearing?

When Applications for Divorce have been filed, you will be allocated a Court Hearing date. In many cases, the court hearing will simply be the court finalising your divorce order. You do not need to attend court for your hearing.

However, if you have children under 18, you may be required to attend court. When you and your spouse have dependants, there is typically more considerations that you may need to work through with a professional lawyer, including custody and child support agreements.

Once the Court has made a decision on your application, your divorce will be finalised one month and one day following the hearing. The Court will issue you with a divorce certificate, to officially designate you as legally divorced.

What does it cost to get a divorce?

An Application for Divorce typically costs around $930. There is also a government filing fee when you file for divorce in Victoria.

However, there is help available for people who are facing financial hardship or who need assistance. People who are eligible for a reduced fee include those receiving legal aid, people on youth allowance, and people receiving Government health concessions.

What if your spouse doesn’t agree to the divorce?

You do not require the approval or permission of your spouse to file for divorce in Australia. However, your partner will need to be notified that you intend to end the marriage. If you have completed a Sole Application, you need to arrange for your spouse to be served with this application and made aware of court proceedings.

You can serve divorce applications via mail or ask a third party, such as a lawyer, to deliver it on your behalf.

In rare cases, a person’s spouse may not be able to be located. If this is your situation, you need to make a good attempt to find them and demonstrate that you’ve taken all reasonable steps to do so. You will need to work with a family lawyer to seek an application that allows you to continue with divorce proceedings without serving your spouse.