In 2016 alone, 46,604 divorces were granted in Australia. You’d think that with the volume of marriages reaching their end that it’d be possible to do so quickly and efficiently.
Not quite. Divorce is a big deal, it takes time. How much time, exactly? The simple answer: at least 1 year plus a couple of months. Before you’re granted your divorce, there are several boxes you and your spouse need to tick. Once you know what they are, you’ll know why the quickest of divorces is typically granted within 16 months total (including separation time).
Can You Apply for a Divorce?
It’s surprising how many Australians don’t realise that you need to qualify before even being able to apply for a divorce. The Australian divorce process is more transparent than a lot of other countries, but there are still a few hurdles you need to jump through. According to the Family Law Act of 1975, you or your spouse need to be (at least) one of the following:
- Be Australian. This can either be by birth, the granting of Australian citizenship, or descent.
- Live in Australia. You must have lived in Australia for the 12 months preceding your application.
- Australia = home. You must regard Australia as your home, with the intention of living in the country indefinitely.
In addition to one of the following, you also need to prove to the court that you have been separated for a minimum of 12 months. You must also ensure the court that reconciliation is unlikely. This means that officials must be convinced that once the divorce is granted, it’s final.
Remember, separation can still happen even though you live in the same house. You just need to be able to show that you are separated and living apart. The technical name for this is ‘separation under one roof’. You will need an affidavit to support your divorce application. You’ll need to provide the following:
- Reason why you’re still sharing a home. Couples that separate tend to change their living arrangements. Why not you? You will need to show why you continue to share a home and if you intend to change this following your divorce.
- Details about changed circumstance. Think changes in sleeping arrangements, the creation of separate bank accounts, fewer joint family outings, etc.
- Have government departments been advised of the separation? Many couples will be required to let government services know of their separation. For example, the Department of Human Services (for Child Support).
Joint Application = Faster
If you’re truly looking for a quickie divorce, then we recommend opting for a Joint Application over a Sole Application. The Sole Application is slower due to the fact that the other spouse must be served the application. This basically means that you can provide proof that you’ve given the divorce application to the other party, either by Post or personal delivery by someone other than yourself.
Joint Applications, on the other hand, will not need to be served, as it’s been signed and approved by both parties. Your divorce will begin the consideration process immediately after it has been received by the courts.
Use Those 12 Months!
Many couples wait for the 12 months to elapse before making arrangements about their future. Don’t. If you’re sure about proceeding with the divorce, it’s advisable to attempt to reach an agreement about certain issues. You may find things you never thought of, and it also gives both of you time to ensure you come to an agreement that is satisfactory for both parties. Divorce is a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be more painful than it needs to.
Finally, Seek Legal Advice
You’re now aware that a divorce takes a minimum of 16 months. But it’s usually longer. This is because getting to a point of agreement isn’t exactly straightforward. What happens to the house? What about the kids? What about the assets and the financial picture in the future?These are not easy questions to answer. Our final piece of advice: it is imperative that you seek legal advice when commencing divorce proceedings. You’ll save yourself (and your ex-spouse!) a lot of trouble.