The majority of marriages begin with a sense of joyful hope for a lifetime of love together. Over time, the struggles of life begin to take their toll until the partners decide the best course of action is to end the marriage. It is an unfortunate fact that around one-third of all Australian marriages will end in divorce.
Understandably, this is a time of great emotional upheaval. It is bewildering, at best, to see your hopes and dreams crushed. Additionally, the legal aspects of divorcing can also feel exceptionally trying. Whilst some people have the experience of divorcing more than once, others are in uncharted territory.
In such trying circumstances, you need expert legal counsel with compassion.
How Do I File for Divorce?
Applications for divorce in Western Australia used to be accessible through the Commonwealth Courts Portal. However, the Family Court of Western Australia has moved away from the Federal web-based service and from 1 September 2021 you must make an application through the eCourts portal. You can file online as an individual or lodge a joint application.
Is there a Substantial Difference between Sole and Joint Divorce Applications?
- Sole Application – As the sole applicant, you are responsible for signing the divorce application as well as serving your partner (known as the respondent) with the application.
- Joint Application – When both partners apply for a divorce, each must sign the application. Neither party must appear in court for joint divorce applications.
Will a Divorce Take Long?
In Australia, there are no quickie divorces. In order to apply for a divorce, the couple must separate for 12 months.
Couples may continue to share a residence in what is called separation under one roof. The couple will need to provide proof that they are separated. Things like separate bank accounts, no longer sharing a bedroom, and openly discussing the state of separation all show the marriage is irretrievably broken.
It is worth noting that couples married less than two years must attend a compulsory mediation session. After the mediation, if the couple chooses to continue with divorce proceedings, the 12-month separation begins.
It is essential to be aware that if a couple decides to reconcile and they stay together for more than three months or longer, the 12-month calendar for separation resets should the pair decide to continue with their divorce.
The Divorce Process
1. After the Initial 12- Month Separation Takes Place, You May Make Your Application for Divorce
When you file your application, you will need to pay the fee as well as provide specific documents. These include,
- A copy of your marriage certificate for all applicants (this does not need to be a certified or original copy)
Additional documents are necessary if special circumstances apply
- You have been married for less than two years
- Your marriage certificate is not in English
- You lived separately under one roof
2. You Will Receive a Date and Time for Your Divorce Hearing
Not all divorce proceedings require the divorcing couple’s attendance. Your presence is mandatory if,
- You are a sole applicant with children under the age of 18
- You have been married for less than two years and have not attended the mandated mediation
- A request that the court dispense with service or another application the court must deal with at the same time as your divorce application
It may be in your best interest for you to attend the hearing if
- You have children, and the court believes you need to present more proof that provisions are in place for them
- You and your partner were separated under one roof
- You were married for less than two years.
3. Finalisation of the Divorce
Your marital status does not change until one month after you receive your divorce certificate. This is important to remember if you plan on remarrying. If you do remarry immediately after your divorce certificate arrives, you are guilty of bigamy.
What About Child Custody Arrangements and Division of Shared Property?
Parenting arrangements and property decisions take place outside of the divorce. The courts can address these issues if you apply within 12-months of your divorce finalisation. You can also apply any time after you and your partner separate.
Even in amicable divorce situations, it is advisable to retain legal counsel when arranging parenting and dividing assets.
Where Can I Find Divorce Lawyers in Perth?
Divorce lawyers in Australia typically practice what is known as family law. They address highly emotional and personal situations such as adoption, child custody, and divorce.
Because of the emotive nature of these cases, you will do well to look for a law firm with experience and compassion. Allegra Family Lawyers offer caring personal service to their clients, and they provide much-needed support during this difficult time.
If you are wrestling with the idea of divorcing your partner, personal impartial advice from a legal professional is crucial. You are always better off making decisions after learning all of the facts.
Needing facts is why contacting Allegra Family Lawyers is a wise choice. By taking advantage of the firm’s free one-hour consultation, you can gain insight into the road ahead should you choose to divorce. Once you decide to divorce, the team at Allegra will walk beside you as you take the necessary steps to end your marriage.