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Family Law

How long does it take to get a divorce in Australia?

By March 3, 2022February 23rd, 2024No Comments

What’s the fastest way to get a divorce? If you’ve heard of ‘divorce in a day’ style services and are tempted to get your divorce filed as soon as possible, here are some of the things you should consider. Firstly, can you genuinely divorce in a day? Spoiler: you can’t. The quickest you can obtain a divorce in Australia is around four months—but that doesn’t include the 12 months you must first be separated before you can apply. Let’s break it down so you know what to expect if you’re wondering, how long does it take to get a divorce in Australia?

If you’ve decided to get divorced, it’s important that you give careful consideration to timing. Although there are no time limits in which you can apply for a divorce, property and asset division is related to your initial date of separation. The time limit for filing a property settlement application is 12 months after the date your Divorce Order becomes final. (De facto couples have two years from the date of separation.) However, to get divorced you’ll need to have first been separated for a year. So you essentially have two years to begin property settlement proceedings. Note though, you don’t have to wait for your Divorce Order to become final to obtain a property settlement or formalise arrangements for the kids. The timeframe will also be longer if children are in the picture – arrangements need to be made for the children before the divorce can be finalised. Therefore we recommend you begin the negotiation process on parenting and property issues as early as possible after separation.

The divorce process is fastest when both parties agree. When you and your ex disagree on issues, ie. the divorce is “contested”, this will extend and prolong the process.

The quickest divorces take around four months before being officially granted by a court. This is counting from the date you first file an application in court til the date a Divorce Order is issued by the court.

What are the requirements for getting a divorce?

You need to be separated from your partner for at least 12 months before you can make an Application for Divorce through our courts. Your official separation date is usually established from when one party communicates to the other that the relationship is over and they act on that communication. Physical separation is not a requirement – people can ‘separate under the one roof’. Note too that the 12 months of separation doesn’t need to be continuous (so you can have brief periods of reconciliation).

In Australia, we have a ‘no fault’ divorce jurisdiction so the only requirements for a court to grant a Divorce Order are:

  • You and your ex have been separated for at least 12 months;
  • There has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; and
  • Either you or your spouse are an Australian citizen or resident.

You can apply you yourself (sole application) or together with your spouse (joint application). If there are no kids under 18 and you make a joint application, neither of you need to attend the divorce hearing. On the other hand, you will for a sole application or if there are children of the marriage. That’s so that the court can satisfy itself that proper arrangements have been made or of any special circumstances.

All divorces become final one month and a day after the day of it being granted. At this time, the court issues the Divorce Order.

What causes delays?

Apart from the time taken in negotiations or dispute resolution, the four months also doesn’t include the time it takes in preparation of documents and obtaining signatures. There can sometimes be procedural issues (such as having trouble serving your ex), not following the necessary procedural steps, or not having the correct paperwork. Also, remember the more complex your issues, the harder it is to get thorough advice in a very short time frame.

Sometimes, though, it’s a case of not being too hasty. Instead of rushing your divorce, take the necessary time to really think through the implications of all proposals. Divorce is usually a highly emotional time in people’s lives, with parties often grieving the loss of their relationship. To be expected to make quick decisions during this time is dangerous and could lead to major regret, mistakes being made and the nightmare of long-term problems being created.

Collaborative law is always a great idea as it, and other alternatives like arbitration and mediation, offer respectful, problem-seeking options. And, they’re all typically much faster than going to court. For example, here at Alliance Family Law, we have achieved complete resolution of issues through collaboration in as little as a three month time-frame.

The quick answer to the question, how long does it take to get a divorce in Australia? You should allow a period of at least 18 months to obtain your divorce if it is uncontested. And if it is contested, it will be fastest to work through issues with divorce mediation or collaborative divorce rather than through court action.

Would you like assistance with your divorce or wish to know more about collaborative practice and other alternatives to going to court? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.


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