Sometimes things don’t always work out the way we planned especially when it comes to relationships. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics most recent data, the Family Court granted 49,116 divorces across Australia in 2019 .
Ending a marriage is never easy. But before you make a decision, you may want to consider the requirements you will need to satisfy to be eligible to apply for a divorce.
Divorce Counselling required for couples married less than two years
One of the most important requirements for a divorce in Australia is the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of a marriage. To prove this to a court, you must be separated from your spouse for at least 12 months with no likelihood of getting back together. Importantly, this is the only basis on which a court will grant an application. You do not need to provide specific reasons for the divorce.
If you have been married for less than two years, the law will require you to jump through additional hoops. Before making a divorce application, you’ll also need to obtain a counselling certificate. This involves attending at least one counselling session with a family counsellor to discuss the possibility of reconciliation with you and your spouse.
The primary purpose of this law is to ensure you both have considered alternative options to improve the relationship before proceeding with a divorce. Couples counselling can help improve the way you communicate with one another and provide the opportunity to explore your relationship problems in a safe and neutral environment .
Despite the apparent benefits of couples counselling, you may decide it is still in your best interests to part ways with your spouse. Your counsellor will then provide a signed form at the session’s conclusion, which states your marriage is irreconcilable. This form must then be attached to your application when filing for divorce in the Family Court.
What if I can’t attend divorce counselling with my spouse? Is there another alternative?
The law recognises that sometimes it may not be possible to attend counselling with your spouse. For example
- There may be a history of domestic or family violence in the marriage and it is not safe for you to attend counselling with your spouse
- You may be unable to locate your spouse
- Your spouse may refuse to attend a counselling session. If you cannot attend counselling with your spouse, you will need the court’s permission to apply for a divorce. You can seek this permission by filing an affidavit with your divorce application .An affidavit is a written statement prepared by a party or a witness . Your affidavit must set out why you and your spouse have not attended counselling and any special circumstances of your case.In the absence of a valid reason, it can be difficult to obtain the court’s permission. Therefore, you should consider whether it is feasible to wait out the two-year time period before filing your application for divorce.
Where can I find a qualified divorce counsellor?
To satisfy the procedural requirements for a divorce application, you must choose a qualified counsellor who can complete the required certification issued by the court.
To find a qualified counsellor near you
- Visit www.familyrelationships.gov.au; or
- Call 1800 050 321
- You can also check out this article – which will help determine if your new counsellor is right for you.
Other helpful links