As a solicitor, I often have potential new clients call me and ask ‘the price for a divorce’. Experience has taught me that it is always sensible to respond asking ‘do you want the order from the Court to end the marriage relationship or are you concerned about property or children’s issues?’
This highlights a real gap in the knowledge many people (read non-lawyers) have of the Australian family law system. Just what is a divorce? And why do lawyers refer to ‘family law matters’?
To put it simply:
- An application for divorce is an application to obtain the order (the ‘decree nisi’) which says that the marriage has ended. A divorce application does not resolve property or children’s issues, although those issues may be relevant to whether a divorce is granted by the Court.
- If you want the Court to make orders dividing the property you own with your spouse (or change the ownership of property owned by either you or your spouse), then an application for property division must be made.
- If you are concerned about the arrangements for your children, then you are asking about a parenting application.
In the case of a divorce, as long as certain thresholds are met, the application process is relatively streamlined. There are options to apply for reduced Court filing fees (in certain circumstances), and many solicitors now file applications for divorce online using the e-filing system, which can save considerable time.
In the case of parenting applications or property division applications, the process is much more complicated. Both parties have obligations under the law – certain steps that must be taken before an application can be made to the Court.
It is always sensible to obtain a solicitors’ advice about your obligations, the options available to you and your circumstances in the event of breakdown of a relationship – even if ultimately you decide not to take any action.
To discuss all your family law needs call 03 5722 4681
MORGAN COUZENS LEGAL
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