Divorce - Things You Need to Know

In Australia, statistics show that one third of relationships end in separation or divorce. Navigating divorce can be a daunting and emotional process and there are no hard and fast rules as to which party gets what in the event of relationship breakdown. Each case is decided on its own facts and the outcome will differ from case to case. At Robert Wood and Associates, our divorce lawyers will guide you through the entire divorce process and help you with the financial and property issues involved. Here’s a few things you should know if considering divorce.

How Long Does It Take?

Obtaining a final Divorce Order usually takes at least 4 months from the date of filing the application. However, if there are problems in locating or serving the other party then it could take longer.

What are Acceptable Grounds for Divorce?

In Australia, there is only one ground for divorce and that is irreconcilable differences evidenced by a period of not less than 12 months’ separation.

To file an application for divorce you must:

  • Be able to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is demonstrated by having been separated for a period of 12 months or more; and
  • Have been married for more than 2 years, or else attended the necessary counselling with the Family Court.

Grounds such as unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion etc., have been invalid since the Family Law Act was introduced in 1975. An application for divorce may only be made in Australia after the parties have been separated for at least 12 months and if the parties have reconciled for 3 months or more, then the 12-month qualification period has to start anew.

What About De Facto Relationships?

The Family Law Act 1975 contains mirror provisions that apply to both married and de facto couples.

What constitutes a de facto relationship?

Where a couple has been living together on a “genuine domestic relationship” and they have either:

  • Been living together for at least 2 years
  • There is a child of the relationship

It would be unjust not to recognise a de facto spouse’s financial or non-financial contributions.

Who Gets What?

While it may seem logical to split things 50/50, this isn’t always the best or fairest outcome. Who gets what in a property settlement  has more to do with needs and contributions of each party. Agreeing how to divide property can be an emotional process and it’s rare for even the most amicable couples to have the same perspective on things. The steps in working out the appropriate division of property and assets following separation are as follows:

  • Agree on the value of the assets and debts of each party
  • Look at who has contributed what to the relationship, both financially and non-financially
  • Identify the needs of each party
  • Determine what a just and equitable division would be

When it comes to working out who gets what, it comes down to correctly understanding what is in your shared property pool and then considering the contributions and needs of each party.

What is the Effect on Children?

You do not need to wait to get divorced before resolving the children’s care arrangements. This is important and should be done soon after the initial separation. For children under the age of 18, the Court will need to make sure that proper arrangements have been put in place for their care and welfare. This does not mean that parents cannot be in dispute over parenting arrangements, merely that the children’s physical and emotional health is being properly maintained.

The Effect of Divorce on Your Will

Any gift in your will left to a spouse will become invalid upon your divorce. Separated spouses should make new wills as soon as possible after separation to reflect their new wishes. You may also wish to remove your spouse as the nominated beneficiary for your life insurance and superannuation entitlements.

If you are separated or are considering divorce, speak to the expert divorce lawyers at Robert Wood and Associates today. Conveniently located in Boronia, our caring and compassionate divorce lawyers will help you navigate the Victorian legal system and provide the right advice based on your individual situation. Call us to make an appointment.

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