At first, the cost of a Divorce may seem unbearable. However, there are ways to minimise the cost, particularly as in Australia Divorce is 'no fault'. In Australia, one party does not have to prove that the other party caused the breakdown of the marriage or give reasons for the breakdown.
An application for Divorce is separate to arrangements regarding matrimonial property and children of the marriage after separation.
A Divorce which is 'no fault' essentially means that neither party needs to show that the other party was at fault or caused the relationship to break down. An uncontested Divorce means that both parties agree that the requirements for a Divorce have been met. For example, the parties agree that they have been separated for at least one year. If one party disputed this fact, then the Divorce would be contested.
Because Divorce is no fault and most applications are uncontested, the costs of getting a Divorce are relatively low, as the need to hire lawyers to engage in a costly Court process is unnecessary.
In most cases, you don't need to appear in Court for the Divorce hearing. If you are applying together with your spouse, and there are no minor children of the marriage, then you do not have to attend the hearing.
Now, all applications for Divorce must be lodged in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The fee for Divorce is $900 unless this can be reduced in cases of financial hardship.
If you are applying with your spouse, it's a good idea to try to split the cost so that each person only pays half the fee.
Federal Circuit Court of Australia fees as at July 2017*
- Application for Divorce: $900.00
- Reduced fee for financial hardship: $300.00
* These fees are subject to change.
The filing fee in the Federal Circuit Court is less than the fee the Family Court. Therefore, it is important that you file your application in the Federal Circuit Court rather than in a Family Law Court.
The fee for Divorce can be reduced from $900.00 to $300.00 if a person applying on their own is suffering from financial hardship. If meeting the filing fee would cause you 'Financial hardship' then you may qualify for a reduction. You may be asked to provide evidence of your income and expenses.
If you receive a government benefit and apply for a Divorce on your own, you would generally qualify to have the fee reduced. Although, even if you have had a fee exempted or reduced before, each application will be considered by the court on each occasion a fee is payable.
If you want to apply for a reduction due to financial hardship, you must fill out a separate Application for Reduction of Fee - Financial Hardship. You can complete the form and send it to the Court without the fee, together with your Divorce application. The Court will consider the application and send you an invoice, either for the full fee or the reduced fee.
Current financial hardship guidelines as at July 2016
For the full Court guidelines for an exemption or reduction of the fee, please click here.
The costs of a Divorce can also be reduced by completing the divorce forms and lodging the application yourself. The Divorce application forms can be printed and completed by hand or typed.
Getting a Divorce doesn't have to be costly. Do some research, compare fees and costs and find the option that's right for you and your budget.
This article contains information of a general nature only and is not specific to your circumstances. This is not legal advice and should not be relied upon without independent legal or financial advice, specific to your circumstances.