Answers to Some Common Questions About Divorce in Australia

Getting a divorce is probably not anyone's preference when it comes to relationships, but a divorce can be needed when a marriage has completely broken down. If you're in Australia and are considering a divorce, note a few commonly asked questions about the process, and then discuss this option with an attorney as needed.

What is separation under one roof?

A couple is typically required to be separated for a period of time before they are allowed a divorce, but if you and your spouse cannot find separate homes and are still living together as roommates, you can file a request that the court recognize your "separation under one roof" arrangement. This refers to the fact that you are mentally and emotionally separated and don't see yourselves as a couple any longer but are simply sharing living quarters. If you can't move out on your own or your spouse isn't moving out, talk to a lawyer about the paperwork needed for the courts to recognize this type of separation.

Can you set a new wedding date if you have a court date for the divorce?

Never assume that your court date and the date of your actual divorce decree will correspond; the court needs to file paperwork and have it processed before your divorce is final, and you may see delays you did not expect. For example, you may be told at your hearing that you are missing certain paperwork, and this may mean that another court date is required in the future. It's always best to wait until you get the okay from a judge and a final divorce decree before you decide on a new wedding date.

What about child custody, property division and support?

Decisions about child custody, property division, spousal or child support and other such issues related to a divorce are not always decided at your divorce hearing. If these things are presented as part of your original request for a divorce, and both spouses have agreed, the judge may sign off on this agreement at that time; however, if you or your spouse have disagreements, these issues are usually decided upon at a later date. Attorneys for both sides may need time to present counteroffers or arguments and to file paperwork related to custody, support and the like. If you're anxious to settle these issues, talk to an attorney about how to work out these agreements at the same time as the divorce itself, but don't assume as to when these will be decided upon.