Separating from your partner can be an overwhelming and emotional time.
If you are in a de facto relationship, there is no specific process (like divorce) to go through to formalise your relationship breakdown.
If you are married, taking that final step to formalise your relationship breakdown through the divorce process does not need to happen right away. You need not be divorced to reach agreement on other pressing issues, like what living arrangements you put in place for your children, or how financial resources are to be divided.
When you are ready to file for divorce, you and your spouse need to have been separated for twelve months and one day.
If you and your spouse each agree that you are ready for a divorce, then you can jointly file an application with the Court. Should all requirements be met, the Court will make the divorce order without the need for you or your spouse to step into a Courtroom.
If you wish to press for a divorce solely without agreement from your spouse, you can file an application in the Court by yourself, and a Court hearing (including attendance at Court) may be required. You will also need to ensure that your spouse has been formally served with the application – there exist some strict rules that govern this process.
While the process of applying for a divorce can be quite straightforward, and we sometimes encourage our clients to minimise their legal fees by undertaking the process on their own, there can be some complicating factors in each individual case that may require you to receive legal advice and assistance throughout the process.
It is important to be aware that Court proceedings for property settlement and spousal maintenance must be commenced within one year of a divorce, or within two years following the breakdown of a de facto relationship. Applications made after this period can only be made with leave (permission) of the Court and this can raise complications.