The divorce process in Australia: How to find your way through

When a relationship breaks down, many people find themselves overwhelmed and unsure of where to even start. This simple visual guide steps you through the process that you’ll need to follow to legally finalise things and move forward.

There are a number of agreements and documents that you might need to consider depending on your situation. Generally, you’ll want to resolve things around children, finances and the relationship itself. Finding your way through the divorce process in Australia will involve navigating these things.

Finding your way through the divorce process in Australia infographic

If you’re ready to take your next step, have Lumi walk you through the entire process appropriate for your situation. Lumi is the world’s first AI separation guide and is completely free.

Do you have dependent children?

No – go to the next question.

Yes – If you have children, this will be the first thing that you’ll want to sort out. There are many things to consider when it comes to their care such as living arrangements, financial support, holidays, and their ongoing relationships with extended family and friends. The sooner you can give them stability and certainty the better.

Creating a parenting plan is the most common way that separating parents manage these things. A parenting plan is a simple document that clearly lays out how things will work if you can’t otherwise agree. As well as ensuring that you’re both on the same page for the obvious things, it also provides you the opportunity to talk about some things upfront which are important, but may not be immediately obvious. The crucial thing here is that whatever you agree to, it should be in the best interests of the child and practicable. A parenting plan is intended to change along with your circumstances and the needs of children.

If you’d like your parenting plan to be legally enforceable, you can apply to have it made as parenting orders by the court.

Do you have assets or liabilities?

No – go to the next question.

Yes – If you have assets and liabilities, doing a financial settlement is often a good idea. Pretty much everything is included in the shared asset pool (including super) and the law has clear principles for how assets and liabilities should be divided (see our article: 5 things you need to know about the law and your divorce for more on this).

Although you could have an informal verbal agreement for how you’ll divide your assets and liabilities, your ex-partner may be able to revisit this in the future if it hasn’t been properly finalised legally. To finalise a financial settlement, you’ll need to first come to an agreement between yourselves. See our article How to separate and divorce amicably in Australia for more on your options for actually getting to an agreement (you could also go to court of course, but this article is for amicable couples).

Once you’ve come to an agreement, you can formalise it by applying to the court for consent orders. They’ll review what you’re proposing, and – if they’re satisfied that it’s just and equitable – will then make the orders to give it legal effect. Alternatively, you can also create a binding financial agreement (BFA), which is essentially a contract between you. This will require each of you to seek independent legal advice from separate lawyers. In our Adieu Assist service, we prefer to use consent orders and have agreements that are sanctioned by the court.

Are you married?

No – go to the next question.

Yes – If you’re married, you’ll need to apply for divorce. Australia has a no-fault divorce system, so although you’ll need to have been separated for at least 12 months, there just needs to be no reasonable likelihood that you’ll get back together to enable you to divorce.

You can now apply for divorce online, and if you’re applying together, the process is actually pretty straight forward.

What now?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, there are some things you’ll need to do.

If you’d prefer to make a start on your own, you can start by talking things through with Lumi the world’s first AI separation guide. It’s completely free. Lumi will guide you through a confidential conversation about your situation and put a plan and resources together to help you find your way through the separation and divorce process.

Alternatively, you can use Adieu Assist to take you through everything in as little as 4 weeks with an unbiased mediator and 3 independent lawyers.