Not every marriage is built to last, but what do you do when you live in Australia, but you were married overseas? Do you need to file your paperwork in the country you were married? Or is it possible to divorce in Australia? 

What is a Divorce? 

A divorce is the legal conclusion of a marriage. It is separate from the parenting arrangements or property settlements that former couples may agree on following their marriage breakdown. You can separate without getting divorced, but your legal obligations remain the same as if you were married and together. Many people prefer divorce to cleanly exit a marriage, which allows them the opportunity to remarry. 

Can You Apply For Divorce in Australia if You Were Married Overseas? 


You can petition the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to obtain a divorce if you were married overseas. However, in addition to Australia’s general divorce eligibility requirements, there will be special rules in place. You will also have many practical matters to consider before following through with a divorce in Australia. 

The general requirements for a divorce in Australia require the separating couple to have been separated for a minimum of twelve months before they file an application for divorce. There can be no reasonable likelihood that they will resume married life. When these two points are established, you can proceed with a divorce if you regard Australia as your home and plan to live in Australia indefinitely; you are an Australian citizen or you have ordinarily lived in Australia for a period of at least twelve months and one day before you file the divorce application. 

Additionally, the court will not agree to a divorce order until it is satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for minor children from the relationship. 

What You Need To Know 

You cannot register your overseas marriage in Australia, but Australia recognises overseas marriages provided they are valid under local law. Therefore, if the marriage would have been valid when had it taken place in Australia, then it’s viewed as valid. 

You will need your marriage certificate (it should be translated to English using an accredited translator if it isn’t already in English) in your divorce application. You will also need your spouse’s current address so papers can be served. If you do not have this information, you need to file for a substituted service. Before you file for divorce in Australia, you should consult with an expert from the country in which you were married to find out how this will impact you if you still spend time in that country. 

If Australia is your best filing option, then you need to complete the necessary forms and file in court. You can do this on your own, but it’s wise to enlist the services of a lawyer who understands the law around divorce and separation. You will need to pay a fee when filing your application. Once the court has your application you will receive a hearing date. You may need to attend court in person. You do not need to attend court if you file a joint application for divorce. Once the papers have been filed and your spouse has been served, they can oppose the application if the specific court doesn’t have the power to make the order or if you made the application before you had been separated for twelve months and one day. 

This doesn’t resolve your parenting arrangements, property settlement, or matters of financial support. A divorce order is merely legal recognition that the marriage has ended. Once the divorce order takes effect, you have a time limit of twelve months to complete your property settlement and financial support agreements. 

Does This Address Property Settlement? 

Divorce property settlement is separate from the actual divorce order. You can begin property settlement after separation and have your family law property settlement in place before your divorce has been finalised. In fact, most family lawyers would recommend that you handle the property settlement process as quickly after separation as possible. However, if you are nearing your divorce order or it’s already in place, but haven’t dealt with property settlement, you need to be aware of the time limit. You have twelve months from the date of the divorce order to finalise your property settlement agreement. 

How AJB Stevens Can Help 

If you have recently separated from your spouse or you are in the midst of a divorce, you need a team of experienced lawyers who can represent your best interests. There is a property settlement time limit, so the quicker you start the process, the better it is for all involved parties. If you do not complete the property settlement process any property you buy or sell following your separation can become part of the property pool. Don’t risk your financial future, reach out to AJB Stevens for a free assessment today.