Understanding Divorce in NSW

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How do I get a divorce in NSW?

Whether you live in New South Wales, Victoria, Canberra, or any other part of Australia, the family law system is the same. That’s because family laws, including divorce laws, are federal laws. This means that they operate all over Australia.

Divorce requirements in NSW are the same as other parts of Australia. However, when you make your divorce application, where you live may have an impact on how your divorce is handled.

Why your home is relevant when applying for a divorce in NSW

When you make a divorce application, you (or your lawyer) must give certain documents to court. The court that usually handles divorces is the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC). It has courtrooms and offices (registries) around Australia. The registry in which you file your divorce documents is usually the place where any hearings will take place.

So it’s important that, if you’re initiating the divorce, you choose a registry that’s convenient for you.

If your spouse initiates the divorce, or if one of you lives a long distance away, the choice of registry may become an issue. There are ways around this, for example, by conducting any hearings by video or telephone link, or by applying for the application to be heard in a registry that’s closer to your home.            

If you’re concerned about the choice of registry, speak to us. We’ll try to make some arrangements that work for you.

What’s the difference between the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court?

For divorces in NSW (and throughout Australia), it’s the FCC that deals with divorce applications. That’s because divorces are handled separately from the other issues that often also arise. Issues concerning children and property are the most common.

The FCC may also hear other family law issues, for example parenting orders, child support, spousal maintenance and property settlements.

The Family Court of Australia (FCA) can also hear these issues, but usually only when they’re complicated. For example, cases concerning international child abduction, adoption, validity of a marriage, or property issues that involve significant assets or complicated business structures.

If a case starts in the FCC, it may be referred to the FCA if it becomes more complicated than initially predicted

Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in NSW?

You may choose not to have a lawyer represent you in your divorce proceedings. But before you make a decision, there are a few important things to consider.

A court registry can help guide you through the process if you DIY divorce in NSW. But it can’t give you any legal advice. That means that if you have any questions about what you should do during the process, you’ll need to seek legal advice from a lawyer. This will mean instructing the lawyer about what’s happened in your divorce to date. If the lawyer needs to fix any issues in your application, it may end up costing you more time and money than it would have if you’d instructed a lawyer from the beginning.

Before you decide to represent yourself, you need to take a good look at the procedures, laws and requirements to make sure that you’ll be able to handle everything independently. If you have doubts, contact us for a free first consultation. We’ll give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Another significant consideration is whether any other legal issues arise because of your divorce. For example,

– Parenting arrangements
– Spousal maintenance
– Property division
– Dividing business assets
– Dividing superannuation
– Working out arrangements for pets
– Making a new will

If you’re going to be impacted by any of these issues, it’s best to instruct us from the start. If we understand all the legal issues that will affect you, we can often represent you more efficiently and achieve better outcomes. Not only are we NSW divorce lawyers, we also work in a range of other legal areas. We can often provide a seamless service for all legal issues.

What are the requirements for getting a divorce in NSW?

When you’re getting a divorce, regardless of whether you’re in NSW or anywhere else in Australia, you must meet a range of requirements before you make your application to the FCC. Take a look at our information on divorce requirements and divorce application to find out more.

Do I need to have counselling before I can get a divorce?

In some situations, Australian laws require a married couple to attend counselling sessions before proceeding with a divorce application. You can find out more information on our divorce requirements page.            

In many cases, divorce can be stressful and emotionally draining. You’ll need good support along the way. Your support network may include family and friends, as well as a counsellor.

How long will it take me to get a divorce?

How long it will take you to get a divorce depends on the complexity of your circumstances. You and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months. You must meet all the divorce requirements, including providing documents to court, for example, your marriage certificate. If you can’t find these documents, the process may take longer. 

If your divorce application is inaccurate or incomplete, delays may result. Depending on the issue, any errors may require the process to restart. It’s difficult to predict how long a divorce will take in these circumstances.

A court won’t grant a divorce until you and your spouse can demonstrate that proper arrangements are in place for the care and welfare of your children (if relevant).

When there are no delays, it usually takes at least four months for a divorce to be granted, from the date of applying, to the date that a divorce order comes into effect. If there are any issues, for example, if you can’t serve documents on your spouse because you can’t locate them, it may be significantly longer.

How much does it cost to get a divorce?

The cost of filing a divorce application in NSW is around $1000.  

However, divorces are rarely as simple as filing an application. Although they are separate issues, any arrangements for children and property may also impact on how drawn-out the process may become.

Once we understand your circumstances, we’ll provide you with an estimate of costs for all the legal issues surrounding your divorce. With a free lawyer consultation, you can get some advice without any obligation to continue using our services. That’s great peace of mind in difficult times.

Are there any other considerations?

If you’re planning to remarry, you need to be mindful of critical dates. You’re not allowed to remarry until the court issues the divorce order. This happens one month and one day after the final divorce hearing.

You must not remarry until you have the final order because you’re technically still married until then. Before remarrying a marriage celebrant (including a priest or minister of religion) will require you to provide your divorce order as evidence of the divorce.

You should also consider making a new will because divorce usually signals a major change in your circumstances. If you’re remarrying, you should bear in mind that marriage will often cancel your current will (either in part or completely), meaning that there’s a good chance it will be invalid once the marriage takes place. We recommend that you have a new will prepared when you separate, remarry, or both.

We offer excellent services in wills and deceased estates. Contact us to discuss your needs.

We’re NSW divorce lawyers who know how to help

If you’re thinking about divorcing, contact us to find out more about getting a divorce in NSW.