As a word, divorce is easy to understand, and has become a common part of modern day vernacular. But the practical and legal realities of the act of divorce are much more complicated. Divorce dissolves a marriage, however there are a number of other separate considerations - such as property settlement and parenting arrangements - that make the separation process more complex.
If you're considering divorce or are interested in learning more about the actualities of the decision, then here's a quick rundown of what to anticipate.
- How do I get a divorce? In order to obtain a divorce, a married couple must have been separated for 12 months or more and one party to the marriage must believe that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
After 12 months of separation, one spouse can file a divorce application in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia. Once filed, the application is then served on the other spouse. A hearing date is set usually four to six weeks after the application has been filed. Often the divorce lawyers alone will attend the hearing, where a Divorce Orders is granted. The Divorce Order takes effect one month after the day it is made. Once the Divorce Order takes effect, the marriage is officially dissolved and the parties are free to re-marry at any time in the future if they so wish.
While the marriage is then officially dissolved, it is often property settlement, child custody and and parenting arrangements that complicate and lengthen the separation process.
- Property Settlement. Property settlement involves the division and distribution of assets of a marriage following separation. Property settlement can occur either before a divorce is obtained, or within twelve months after a Divorce Order takes effect.
If a property settlement cannot be resolved out of court, the Family Court of Australia and Federal Magistrates Court of Australia have the power to decide on those settlements. After establishing what property is available for division between spouses, the Courts consider the financial and non-financial contributions of both parties (including homemaking and parenting contributions), and factors relevant to the future needs and circumstances of each party.
Parenting Arrangements Family and child custody lawyers can advise on and formalise parenting and custody arrangements for children following the separation of parents, and in other circumstances. Should parents and other carers not be able to reach agreement about the parenting arrangements for their children, parenting issues can be decided by the Court.
Court decisions will be made in the best interests of the relevant child, even if they conflict with the wishes or desires of the child's parents, or other carers.