5 key questions to ask a divorce lawyer before you file for divorce

Upon engaging the right legal team, you can gain a lot of knowledge during your initial interviews and consultations if you ask the right questions. 

By Hollie Brown, Legal Administrative Assistant at Australian Family Lawyers, Perth.

To help you with that objective, here is a list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer before you file for divorce.

Firstly, what do I need to have to file for divorce?

Group o f professional thinking about questions to ask a divorce lawyers

  • A copy of your marriage certificate. You can obtain a copy of your marriage certificate from any local courthouse or the Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages. If you live somewhere remote or overseas, you can make an application by post. The general turn around is four weeks for postal request and if you are going in person, a copy will be provided to you on the same day. Each state or territory will have its own process:
  • A copy of any final sealed children’s orders you may have if you have children under the age of 18.
  • A copy of your Australian citizenship certificate if you were born outside Australia.
  • There is a filing fee, currently, $930.00. If you are the holder of a concession card issued by Centrelink, you may apply to pay the reduced fee, which is currently $310.00.

When can I apply for Divorce?

How do I apply for my Divorce?

  • The Courts now operate online, making it easier for individuals to apply for divorce or for the individual’s solicitor to apply on their behalf. 
  • You must sign up for access to the Commonwealth Court Portal, a step-by-step process with an array of questions regarding the marriage and separation.

What important details do I need to know before filing for divorce? 

  • You need to know the dates for the following:
    1. Date of Cohabitation (when you started living together)
    2. Date of Marriage 
    3. Date of Separation 
  • Service address for the other party. If a solicitor does not represent them, you will have to organise personal service of the sealed Application for Divorce documents. You cannot serve these yourself. However, any person over the age of 18 can serve on your behalf. 

After I have filed for divorce, what happens? 

  • Once you have filed for Divorce and the Divorce application is accepted by the Court, you will be provided with a date for your divorce hearing. Most divorce hearings do not require the attendance of the parties unless it is a sole application by one party only or it is a sole application, and there are children under 18 years, in which case you will be required to attend the hearing.
  • You must also attend the hearing where the other party files an objection. 
  • If it is a sole Divorce application by one party only, not a joint Divorce application by both parties, then you must organise personal service upon the other person.
  • You must complete a Form 7 Affidavit of Service (the person who swears this document is the person who effected the service upon the other party), Form 6 Acknowledge of Service (the person who signs this document is the person being served), Affidavit of proof of Signature (the person who signs this document is the person who prepared and filed the Divorce application [you])
  • Once you have effected personal service upon the other party, you must file the documents listed above on the Commonwealth Courts Portal. This is so that the Registrar or Magistrate assessing your divorce can ascertain that you have done everything correctly and that both parties are aware of the divorce hearing and no objections have been filed. 
  • You will have your allocated court hearing, which will provide an outcome.
  • If the Divorce is granted, the Divorce will be finalised one calendar month and one day from the hearing, and a Divorce Order will be uploaded to the Commonwealth Courts Portal. This is when you may (if a female) change your name to your maiden name legally. You may provide a copy of the divorce order to your Bank, Centrelink, and government agencies if you wish to be referred to by your maiden name. If you want to keep your married surname, your title will change from Mrs to Ms. 
  • If you are not granted the Divorce, it will be due to the Registrar or Magistrate needing clarification about your application, in which a letter will be sent to you directly for you to then answer. We recommend you seek legal advice.
  • If you have not yet finalised your financial issues, such as property settlement and spousal maintenance matters, you have one year within which to file an application in Court to commence proceedings for financial issues. 
  • If you do not file an application for orders for financial issues within the year, you will have to apply for leave and provide special circumstances to the Court as to why you are applying to commence proceedings out of time. (you will need to seek separate legal advice about financial as that is a separate proceeding from the divorce proceedings).

If you have any further questions to ask a divorce lawyer or need any further legal information about filing for divorce within your state, please get in touch with us via the form below. 

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