Divorce in Australia

For many decades, if one wanted a divorce from their partner, they have to prove that their spouse was to blame. For the divorce to also occur, there had to be grounds that ranged from adultery, habitual drunkenness to desertion and abandonment. For some, the services of private investigators were acquired.  For some couples going as far as staging the adulterous trysts sufficed for the purpos4e of getting evidence for use in courts.

Formost of the 20th century, divorce remained state matters often viewed from a moralistic approach, and this came to change with the Matrimonialclauses bill, which was introduced in 1959. It stipulated at least 14 grounds for divorce, including habitual drunkenness, insanity, cruelty, and desertion.

The passage of the Family Law Act in 1975 precipitated an increase in divorce rates amongst Australian couples. For the first time, the law introduced no-fault divorce. The law as presented did not only deal with the legal aspects of a divorce but considered the psychological and social consequences of a marriage breakdown. Therefore, the aim of the Family Law Act was to remedythe problems that existed when it was still viewed under strict doctrines and principles.

The effect of implementing the new law was a significant surge in divorce rates in Australia. What followed was a pile-up of court cases by couples who were, in fact, no longer living together and wanted to get a divorce as the previous situation could not readily allow them to get a divorce. It was not after the 2000’s that the divorce rates started dipping down.

As of 2016, it was recorded that for both men, the divorce rates were highest for people between the ages of 25-29, after which the divorce rates steady through the 30s before peaking again when couples are in their late 40’s. After 55, many couples are less likely to divorce.

Duration of marriage to divorce

The most significant proportion of couples separating and divorcing are those that have been married for at least nine years or less. For the year ended 2017, at least 55% of separations and 43% of the divorces came from couples falling under this category.

In Australia, there is nothing like a fast or instantaneous divorce. In order to make an application for divorce, a couple must first have been separated for at least 12 months. If three months of lapses without reconciliation, the 12-month separation restarts again.Applying for divorce and having one finalized therefore takes at least four months.

If the couple has been living together during the separation period, they must show proof that they are separated. This can be done by affidavits, friends, and neighbors offering evidence to the effect and operating different bank accounts. 

Quick Facts

If the couple has been married for less than two years, they will be required to attend a mediation session. If there are no chances of a partner in the union attending the sessions, an affidavit is filed, after which standard divorce procedures can commence. If a partner in a marriage does not want a divorce and there has been a separation for 12 months, and they can prove the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down,’ the grounds for divorce are established. All partners, however, have the right to be informed of the divorce hearing. They have to be served by third party 28 days before the court hearing.


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