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You can make a divorce application if you wish to end a marriage and you meet the divorce requirements.

Applications for a divorce are made online, and this page gives an outline of the process. You need to:

  • Apply online
  • Pay the application fee
  • File the documents
  • Have your application sworn
  • Serve the application
  • File the service documents.

If you made a joint application with your spouse, you do not need to serve the documents.

Also, if you make a sole application, your spouse can respond to the application.

Apply online

Applying on your own or with your partner

For more information about the online application process, visit the Family Court of Australia website.

Documents to file

You have to file a marriage certificate with all divorce applications.

You can provide the ceremonial certificate or the provided by Births, Deaths and Marriages (or the local equivalent if you married outside Western Australia). The marriage certificate you provide is not required to be an original or certified.

There are extra documents to file if:

  • your marriage certificate is not in English
  • you were separated under one roof
  • you are relying on citizenship or visa residency requirements, or
  • you have been married for less than two years

There is more information on the additional divorce application requirements page.

Application fee

There is a filing fee payable to the Family Court when you file your application. You may be eligible for a reduction in the fee if you are on certain government benefits or if you are suffering from financial hardship. See the fees page for more information.

The filing fee is payable at the time of filing the application using a Mastercard or Visa credit/debit card via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. You can pay online and attach the appropriate evidence, except if you don’t meet the fee reduction criteria and are making an application for a reduced fee due to financial hardship. More information on eligibility for fee reduction is available on the fee reduction page.

Have your application sworn by an authorised witness

Print a copy of your application and have it sworn by an authorised witness, which is usually a Justice of the Peace or lawyer. See the affidavit page for more information on having documents sworn.

Scan the affirmed copy of your application and upload it.

Serve the application

If you are filing the application on your own (a sole application) then you must provide copies of the documents you filed to your spouse.

You, the applicant, will have to provide evidence to the court that the application has been served and received by the other party.

This is normally done by completing and filing an Affidavit of Service with the court.

See the serving a divorce application page for more information.

Responding to an application

The other party may then file a Response to Divorce if they disagree with any of the information provided on the application or if they oppose the divorce. There are very few opportunities to oppose a divorce unless the parties have not been separated for 12 months or if the court does not have jurisdiction.

See responding to a divorce application has more information.

How long will the divorce process take?

When you file your application you will be given a hearing date. This is the date your application for divorce will be dealt with, or considered by the Family Court. If you are making a joint application, the process will be quicker because you will not have to serve the application or wait for a response.

This date is usually a few months (one to three months) away from the date you filed so make sure you have left plenty of time especially if you are planning to remarry.

Will I have to go to court?

You will not need to go to court if you:

  • do not have children under 18,
  • you marked the box on the application form that says you do not want to go to court, and
  • your husband/wife does not object to your application

If you have children under 18, the court will require attendance by the person applying for the divorce (the applicant) at court, or if it is a joint application then the court will ask you both to attend if it is not satisfied that appropriate arrangements have been made for your children.

If at any time during the 12 month period of separation you were still living under the same roof as your former spouse, you should attend the divorce hearing. You may also need to bring an independent witness who can verify that you and your spouse were separated.

You should attend the hearing date for this application. If you are unable to attend in person, you may wish to apply to attend by phone by completing the Telephone/Video link attendance request form.

Please note: if you are overseas it is not possible to attend divorce hearings by phone. Other options for litigants overseas are to engage the services of an Australian lawyer to attend on your behalf or to file further material (eg material regarding any children of the marriage) and then seek leave of the Registrar to excuse your attendance. This is referred to the Registrar hearing your matter and may not be approved.

We are getting divorced – will decisions about future arrangements for our children, property and maintenance be made at the same time?

The granting of a divorce does not decide issues about property and maintenance or parenting arrangements for your children. If you want to make arrangements about these issues you can:

  • make an agreement with your spouse and file it with a court, or
  • seek orders from a court, where you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement.

For parenting cases, you also have the option to make a parenting plan. For more information about parenting plans, go to the Family Relationships Online website or call 1800 050 321.

If you want to apply for maintenance for yourself or a division of property, you must file a separate application within 12 months of the date the divorce becomes final. Otherwise, you will need the Court’s permission to apply.

More information can be found under Parenting and Property & Finance on this website.

Last updated: 11-Sep-2017

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