Steps to Take When You Decide to Divorce

Choosing to end your marriage is a difficult situation. How you approach the weeks and months that follow agreeing to divorce can have a big impact on your future. If you're in the early stages of separating from your spouse, there are certain steps you should take.

Look at your period of separation

Under Australian law, you and your spouse must go through a 12-month separation period before the divorce is allowed. The separation period doesn't need to take place while living in different properties. Separation Under the Same Roof is recognised by the courts, but you may need a divorce lawyer to help you argue your case.

You're also allowed to spend up to three months of that 12-month period trying to reconcile with your partner. After the 3-month mark, you'll need to begin the 12-month separation period again.

Consider counselling

If you have been married for less than two years, you'll need to attend counselling whether you've been through a 12-month separation period or not. If your counsellor is satisfied that it isn't possible to reconcile, they'll provide a certificate that you can use during the divorce proceedings.

It isn't unusual for one person to decide that they do not want to attend counselling. In some cases, counselling isn't appropriate. When this happens you can apply to get a divorce anyway, but your lawyer may need to help you explain why you couldn't attend counselling.

Secure a marriage certificate

Before the divorce proceedings begin, you'll need to provide proof of your marriage. If you no longer have a marriage certificate, your family lawyer can help you apply for a new copy using the births, marriage and deaths register.

It's possible to use certificates from marriages that take place abroad. However, if yours is in another language, you'll need a translation with a sworn affidavit. Again, your divorce lawyer can help you do this correctly.

Make custody arrangements

Courts can choose to deny divorce requests when child custody arrangements aren't agreed upon. In addition to agreeing to who the children will live with, you must decide how long they will live with that person. For example, if you're having a 60:40 child custody split, what days of the week will accommodate the split?

In some cases, it's also necessary to agree on matters such as education, healthcare and financial support. By allowing your legal team to liaise with your spouse's legal team, arriving at such decisions becomes easier.

With the right legal guidance, you can make your way through the divorce proceedings. By using a family lawyer you stand a better chance of reaching an amicable solution.