How long is the divorce process?

The procedures and requirements set out by the family law courts in Australia

As with most legal processes, divorce in Australia requires you to follow strict procedures and timelines. Whilst you may separate from your partner at any time, divorce is a lengthier process which will require the court’s involvement.

Fortunately, Australian divorce law is a fairly simplified process when compared to the legalities of other countries. However, there are still procedures which must be adhered to. In this blog, we discuss the timeline affiliated with divorce in Australia and provide tips for the most streamlined and time-efficient divorce experience.

The timeline

Australia has a ‘no-fault’ jurisdiction, meaning that a court does not consider which partner was at fault in the marriage breakdown. The only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship, which is demonstrated by 12 months of separation. Even so, you should expect the divorce process to take a minimum of four months from when you file for divorce and when the divorce order is issued by the court.

A divorce order will arrive one month and one day after a successful divorce hearing. For example, if your divorce hearing was on June 1st, your divorce order would issue on July 2nd.

You should not make plans to remarry until after you have received the divorce order from the court. Remarrying prior to receiving this order is an offence in Queensland known as bigamy, punishable by imprisonment, and your new marriage can be declared void.

Before filing for divorce

It’s important to note that you must be separated for 12 months prior to filing for divorce. Australian Family Law recognises ‘separation under the one roof’, in which you and your partner separate but remain living together. In this instance, you will need to prove that you were separated during this time. A Family Law Specialist can assist in this process.

If you separate and come back together for a period of fewer than three months, you must simply prove that you were separated for a total of 12 months. For example, if you separated on 1 January 2020, reconciled on 1 June 2020, but then separated again on August 1st 2020, then you would be eligible to file for divorce on 2 March 2021; a total of 12 months separated. If you separate and come back together for a period longer than three months, the time resets.

The application process

Following the 12-month separation period, you can file for divorce yourself or jointly with your spouse. If you apply yourself, not jointly, then your spouse will need to be served with the divorce court documents. This can take time, particularly if you are unaware of your spouse’s location.

A joint application is easier as neither party have to be served with the court documents. If you and your partner are in agreement regarding the divorce and are still in contact, filing a joint application can assist in streamlining the divorce process as you will not have to wait for your spouse to be served

In setting a date for the court hearing, the court will consider whether it was an individual or joint application and therefore whether they need to allow time for one party to be served with court documents.

Divorce documents can be served via the post, through a legal service or in person. You yourself cannot serve your spouse in person, but any other person over the age of 18 can do so. This may be a friend or family member, if not a professional process server.

Employing a professional process server may reduce the time required to fulfil this step and they will usually complete an Affidavit of Service for filing, however, do consider that there will be fees involved in this process.

Married less than two years?

Keep in mind, if you have been married for less than two years, there are additional steps that precede filing for a divorce order. You will need to obtain a Counselling Certificate, which proves to the court that you have received professional counselling and considered reconciliation, or only one party attended such counselling and the was invited to attend but did not.

Engaging an Accredited Family Law Specialist will ensure that all the necessary procedures are followed correctly and accurately in the lead up to your divorce hearing, lowering the possibilities of the court adjourning the hearing to a later date which can delay the divorce order being made.

Ensure your divorce is as streamlined as possible – enlist the professionals. Shannon Daykin, Daykin Family Law’s Director, is an Accredited Family Law Specialist, with a wealth of experience and expertise in property settlement, parenting agreements and all other aspects of family law.


We give you expert legal advice on the most appropriate and cost-effective course of action for you and your family.  Contact us on (07) 3338 5645 to make an appointment for a fixed fee initial consultation today.

The blog published by Daykin Family Law is intended as general information only and is not legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing the blog posts, the reader understands there is no solicitor-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a legal practitioner, and readers are urged to consult Daykin Family Law on any legal queries concerning a specific situation.

Co-parenting and dispute resolutions.

Parenting arrangements: what if we don’t agree?

Successful co-parenting with your former partner can be tricky to achieve and may involve a period of negotiation and compromise before finding an agreeable solution. In some cases, you may not achieve a mutually agreeable solution on your own and in this instance, there are several options available to protect what matters most; the wellbeing of your shared child or children.

It is common during separation and divorce for the separating parties to harbour negative emotions towards each other. These feelings can make agreeing on terms of the separation, particularly the care of your shared child/ren, difficult or sometimes impossible.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement which outlines how you and your former partner will co-parent your shared child/ren. It can detail a range of things, such as where the child/ren will live, where they will go to school, which parent will provide care and when, what will happen on special holidays and birthdays and how a child will communicate with their parents. The plan can also detail agreed-upon parenting styles, a particular faith/religion that will be taught at home and any required healthcare plan specific to the child/ren.

A mutually agreed-upon plan can provide structure and routine to a child/ren’s life during what can be a volatile, emotional and distressing time.

Remember, circumstances change and so to can the plan. As children age, their needs and preferences change, so keep communication with your former partner open so that the plan can be revised in future. If needed, set a date to review the plan with your partner so that you can both feel assured that it is always the best solution for your child/ren.

The Family Courts

The Family Law Courts can hand down an order which dictates what parenting arrangements will be in place for a child until they turn 18. While for some, enlisting the Court’s help is the only option for achieving a resolution, it should only be considered a final resort. Receiving a decision from the Court is not only a costly exercise which can be drawn out over a long period of time, but the final order can also feel impersonal for your family, as it is a legal directive, rather than an arrangement that your family have devised together.  You give over control to the Court, which is unsuitable for many families.

Before turning to the Courts, there are several support resources available to families.

Before going to court

A family report, prepared by an unbiased third-party professional, assesses the family dynamics, a child/ren’s wishes and their needs to create a recommended parenting arrangement. This report can also be submitted as evidence to a Court if the situation demands a Court decision.

A family dispute resolution mediator can also act as an unbiased voice of reason between yourself and your former partner. Unlike the Court, a mediator will work with all affected parties to determine the best solution, rather than handing down a legal directive.

Utilising a mediation professional is also an opportunity for both parents to discuss their wishes and concerns regarding their child/ren’s relationship with their other parent and the future, without needing to converse directly with their former partner, which could potentially start an emotionally-fuelled argument.

The most important thing

No matter which solution you turn to, it is important to remember that your main concern should always be the health and happiness of your child/ren. During a separation or divorce, when emotions are running high, parents can often fall into the trap of letting their negative emotions towards their former partner restrict the possibility of reaching a solution which is best suited for the child/ren.

It is important that children feel loved, supported and safe as the family transitions after separation.  Never argue with or speak negatively of your former partner in front of the child/ren. While you should keep communication with your child/ren open and encourage them to discuss their feelings openly with you, never ask them to pick sides or make a final decision regarding their living arrangements.

Whilst family and friends may give you advice and mean well, it should not replace the sound and pragmatic advice of a family law specialist.   The danger with this is that the legal system is complex and how you conduct yourself is important.  A wrong turn with how to handle certain important situations can be disastrous, not only for the objectives you want to achieve but could also have a negative impact on your children.  We guide clients through post-separation issues by being upfront about the things that might cause unnecessary dispute.  Similarly, we provide clear advice when needed on when a firm approach is needed to protect what matters most.

Shannon Daykin, Daykin Family Law’s Director, is an Accredited Family Law Specialist, with a wealth of experience and expertise in family law and parenting agreements. Contact us today to discuss all your options in order to achieve a positive solution as efficiently as possible.


We give you expert legal advice on the most appropriate and cost-effective course of action for you and your family.  Contact us on (07) 3338 5645 to make an appointment for a fixed fee initial consultation today.

The blog published by Daykin Family Law is intended as general information only and is not legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing the blog posts, the reader understands there is no solicitor-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a legal practitioner, and readers are urged to consult Daykin Family Law on any legal queries concerning a specific situation.