How to Obtain a Divorce in Australia If Married Overseas

a man holding a divorce certificate

Divorce can be tough for a lot of people. But it can even be more complicated if you were married overseas, primarily because of the nuanced legal factors you might have to face. You may be asking yourself questions like:

  • Can I apply for divorce in Australia if my spouse and I tied the knot overseas?
  • How do I even contact my ex-partner if I have no idea where they currently live?
  • Will it be a problem if my marriage contract isn’t written in English?

So today, we’ll help you understand the issue better and discover the necessary legal steps you have to take. We’ll do it by answering some of the most frequently asked questions. 

Am I eligible to file for divorce in Australia if I was married overseas?

Yes. You could apply for divorce in Australia even if you were married overseas if:

  • You (or your spouse) are an Australian citizen. That’s either by descent, birth or grant of Australian citizenship.
  • You (or your spouse) reside or have lived in Australia for the past 12 months before applying for a divorce.
  • You consider Australia as your home, with intentions of living here indefinitely. 

Have you met one of the above three criteria? Then, you can apply for divorce in Australia. Keep in mind that you may have to provide proof of your eligibility or certain circumstances. 

Are there other considerations you need to think of?

The criteria discussed above may seem simple, but several factors could complicate your divorce application in Australia. Here are some of them:

  • Marriage certificate that’s written in a foreign language

You may need to hire a qualified professional to translate your marriage certificate. The document must include a signed affidavit verifying the translations are correct and accurate. 

  • Time limits on serving divorce application

If your spouse currently lives overseas, you have to serve them the divorce documents at least 42 days before the court hearing. It may get complicated if you’ve lost touch with your partner. 

  • You can’t locate your ex-partner living in another country.

For instance, if you know where your partner lives in San Jose, CA, it’s ideal if you and your attorney can coordinate smoothly with their divorce lawyer in California. But that’s not always possible. So if you’ve taken all reasonable steps to locate your ex-partner but still haven’t found them, you can apply to the court for either of these two services:

  1. Substituted service: This service allows you to serve your divorce documents to a third party who have the capabilities to pass these documents to your estranged spouse. 
  2. Dispensation of service: This service permits you to skip serving court documents. But you have to prove you’ve made all reasonable attempts to find your partner.

It’s best to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Australia before applying for either of these services. That way, you’ll be guided accordingly and ensure you’ve made the right choice.

What does the court consider when granting a divorce in Australia?

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The Family Law Act of Australia establishes the principle of no-fault divorce. The court won’t look at why the marriage ended. It’ll only probe to see whether you’ve been separated for at least 12 months before the filing. But if you have children under 18 years old, you also have to show you’ve made proper arrangements for them before the court can grant your divorce. 

Can your ex-partner oppose your divorce application?

Your spouse can only oppose the divorce application in Australia if they have not been separated from you for the past 12 months. Otherwise, they can oppose the application by filing a Response to Divorce. In that document, they have to set the grounds on why they want the court to dismiss the application.

Do you need to attend the court hearing?

It depends on your circumstances. You aren’t required to appear on the court if:

  • You and your spouse have no minor children.
  • You and your spouse have children under 18 but have made a joint divorce application.
  • You are the Respondent, and you don’t oppose the divorce application.

You have to attend the court hearing if you’ve made a sole application and you have kids under the age of 18. The court will have to look more closely at your circumstances.  

Contact Adelaide’s Top Divorce Lawyers

Got more questions? Consult with the top divorce lawyers in Adelaide. They are ready to evaluate your case and guide you through the necessary legal steps to obtain a divorce. 

How to Obtain a Divorce in Australia If Married Overseas

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