How long does divorce take after filing papers? A quick guide

How long does a divorce really take after filing papers in Australia? Practice Leader, Jessica Koot examines the Australian divorce process, rules, regulations and timeframes.

By Jessica Koot, Practice Leader at Australian Family Lawyers, Wollongong.

What is a divorce application?

Firstly, it is essential to clarify that divorce is a different process from your property settlement. Divorce is the legal process that formally ends a marriage. Only people who have been legally married can apply for a divorce.

A divorce application is a document that is filed with the Court to initiate your divorce process. Parties to a marriage must be separated for at least 12 months before they file a divorce application. 

Additionally, the Court must be satisfied that:

  • there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and 
  • there is no reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed. 

Divorce applications can be made solely by one party to the marriage or jointly by both parties with a mutual divorce application. If a sole application is made, there are strict rules about the service of the sealed divorce application on the responding party. 

Where parties have lived together, separated under the same roof, within the 12 months prior to filing the divorce application, it’s necessary to file Affidavit material detailing what changed in the marriage following separation. 

You won’t be able to apply for divorce within two years of the date of marriage without either: 

  • Leave of the Court; or 
  • A certificate stating that the parties have considered reconciliation with the assistance of an approved family counsellor, signed by that counsellor. 

How long does a divorce take after filing papers?

An hourglass with blue sand on desk signifying how long does divorce take after filing papers in Australia

When you’ve filed the divorce application, the online Court portal will allow you to select the Court registry in which the divorce hearing will be heard and to choose from several available dates for that registry. The time frame between filing and the divorce hearing will depend on the availabilities of each registry. 

We’re generally noticing quicker time frames since the merger of the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court with the addition of more Judicial Registrars who hear divorce matters. For example, for the most recent divorce application filed by our Wollongong family law office in the Wollongong registry, the time frame between filing the application and the divorce hearing was five weeks. However, it’s not the rule of thumb, and you should expect a longer delay between filing and your divorce hearing for abundant caution. 

The divorce hearing will generally occur via telephone or in chambers without appearance. Appearances by telephone are required for sole divorce applications where there are children of the marriage under the age of 18 years. 

Once the divorce order is made, it’s not final until one month and one day after the making of it. Similarly, a sealed copy of the divorce order is not available on the court portal until one month and one day have passed. 

Sometimes unforeseen matters may lead to further delays, such as issues with the service of the documents on the other party. It is important always to leave time for these unforeseen instances and to seek advice early, particularly if you are planning to marry another person. 

Got questions about how long does a divorce take after filing papers in Australia? Need to be guided through the divorce process? Call our friendly team directly or request a call back via the form below.

Do you have a question about family law or relationship law?

Call now 03 9088 3184

If you would prefer an Australian Family Lawyers team member to contact you, complete the form below.