Divorce is a life-altering event that not only affects your emotional well-being but also your financial stability.
If you’re wondering, “How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Australia?” you are not alone.
This article aims to break down the costs associated with divorce in Australia so you can be better prepared for what lies ahead.
Divorce Application and Filing Fees
According to The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, the fee for filing an Application for Divorce costs $1060. You may be eligible for a reduced fee of $350 under certain conditions like financial hardship. A decree of nullity is even more expensive at $1,505.
🔑 Key Takeaway: The basic filing fee starts from $1060 but can be reduced based on your financial situation.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for reduced fees. The court outlines a three-part test to determine eligibility.
The Three-Part Test Explained
The court outlines a three-part test to assess whether you qualify for reduced fees. Here’s what the test involves:
- Gross Income: This includes all forms of income like wages, salary, self-employment income, rental income, and even government benefits. If you have dependents, the allowable income before tax is scaled accordingly.
- Total Assets: This takes into account any liquid assets you own, such as cash, bonds, and convertible shares. The total value of these assets must be less than five times the payable filing fee to qualify for reduced fees.
- Day-to-Day Living Expenses and Liabilities: This part of the test assesses whether you have any surplus income after accounting for your daily living expenses. You may qualify for reduced fees if your income barely covers your day-to-day expenses.
🔑 Key Takeaway: The three-part test is comprehensive, considering your income, assets, and daily living expenses to determine your eligibility for reduced fees.
Types of Divorce Applications
Joint Application: A Collaborative Approach
In a joint application, both parties agree on the divorce terms and file the application together.
This eliminates the need for serving divorce papers to the other party, which can save you time and money.
Neither party must attend the divorce hearing since the application is agreed upon and filed jointly.
The matter is usually dealt with “on the papers” in Chambers.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Joint applications are generally quicker and less expensive but require both parties to agree.
Also read: How to Stop a Divorce: 6 Helpful Steps
Sole Application: Going It Alone
If you opt for a sole application, it means that you are the one initiating the divorce proceedings and the only party required to sign the divorce application.
You’ll need to serve the divorce papers to your ex-partner, which incurs an additional fee.
The cost for serving divorce papers varies but can be around $100 – $200.
Additionally, if you file for a sole divorce application and there are children of the marriage who are under the age of 18 years, you will be required to attend the divorce hearing or have a solicitor attend on your behalf.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Sole applications come with additional steps and costs, such as serving papers and attending court hearings.
Implications of Divorce Fees in Australia
The costs incurred in both types of applications can be comparable, especially when you factor in legal fees.
Generally, opting for joint divorce applications is a more streamlined choice when both parties mutually consent to the divorce. This approach can help sidestep expenses related to court appearances and serving papers associated with a sole application.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Although the court filing fee for both joint and sole divorce applications remains the same (typically $1060, with the potential for reduction if eligible for a reduced filing fee), the overall incurred fees may vary.
Additional Divorce Costs:
Separated and Living Under the One Roof
If you and your spouse have separated but are still residing together, filing affidavits is necessary when submitting your divorce application. These affidavits elucidate the particulars of your living situation. While no extra filing fee is associated with these documents, it is advisable to seek legal guidance to ensure their accurate completion.
Property and Parenting
It is important to remember that an application for divorce is the process of legally terminating a marriage and receiving a Divorce Order.
A divorce hearing does not address matters related to parental custody or the division of property.
It is recommended that you seek legal advice on your parenting and property rights when applying for divorce or if served with divorce papers.
🔑 Key Takeaway: Property and parenting are treated as separate legal matters to your divorce application.
Divorce is a complex process that involves not just emotional upheaval but also financial considerations.
From choosing the type of application to file (joint vs sole) to understanding the intricacies of court fees and financial hardship exemptions, the landscape is fraught with decisions that can have long-lasting implications.
That’s why seeking family law legal advice is not just recommended—it’s essential.
A qualified legal advisor can guide you through the maze of paperwork, court proceedings, and financial obligations, ensuring that you make informed decisions every step of the way.
We can also help you understand if you qualify for any exemptions or reduced fees, potentially saving you a significant amount of money.