Which Court Do I File For Divorce in Australia – How It Works

So, you’re going through a divorce, or at least planning on it, and you’re wondering where to start? A good place to start is to have somewhat of an idea on what happens in court, and if you even need to go. 

It might be big, bad and scary, I agree, but you absolutely have to understand what happens in court. It is non negotiable. Why? Well because it will limit any surprises you might come across, which will make the experience all the more comfortable!

If you’re going through a divorce, you don’t deserve any unwanted surprises. That’s why we have made this article. In this article, we will share with you which court you will be involved with in a divorce or separation, as well as what to expect. 


What Court Do You Need For A Divorce In Australia 

Unless something really, really catastrophic has happened in your separation, you can rule out things like the supreme court for now. In a separation with your partner and divorce in Australia, you will be dealing with the family court. 


What Is The Family Court?

As you’d imagine, the family court deals with matters relating to, you guessed it, the family. Specifically, some of these issues include: 

  • Family court applications for separation and divorce 
  • De facto relationship law 
  • Child custody disputes and parenting matters 
  • Property settlements 
  • Financial settlements and superannuation 
  • Consent orders and agreements 
  • Spousal maintenance 


When Might You Need To Go To Family Court 

You need to go through a family court trial procedure when you need to do any of the previously listed above issues. Reasons when you may need to go to family court include:

  • You are separating amicably, or on bad terms with your partner 
  • You are trying to keep/defend/gain partners assets 
  • You want custody of your children 


What Is The Family Court Procedure? 

There is no rule of thumb proceeding, because every case is different. However, there are three main circumstances that you can understand that will loosely follow what you will go through. They include: 


Property Settlement Proceedings 

A property settlement is when you are trying to keep or take assets from your partner. If you can not decide who gets what, the court will decide, and it looks like this:

  1. Application is filed 
  2. Interim hearings with the court/directions hearing 
  3. Conciliation conference
  4. mention /directions hearing 
  5. Final hearing 


Parenting Proceedings 

Parenting proceedings will involve your family and child custody. If you don’t split amicably and one party tries to keep the kids, you will go through this: 

  1. Application is filed 
  2. Interim hearing and interim orders made regarding the wellbeing of the children and living arrangements 
  3. Family report process and evidence gathering 
  4. Interim hearing/directions hearing 
  5. Final hearing 


Out of Court Settlement 

In the best case scenario if you and your partner manage to separate amicably, you can settle legal matters out of court. For this, you will need to be assisted by legal professionals. When settling out of court, you will go through: 

  1. Mediation 
  2. Consent orders 


What Do All Of These Steps, Processes and Terms Mean? 

It’s all well and good to say you’ll be submitting an application and going to an interim hearing, but what do these things mean? How does a divorce work? They mean: 



This is the initiation process to start a separation or legal matter. Usually submitted to the Courts Portal online, this process will gather all of your information for the court to begin evaluation. If you want this done properly, get a family lawyer to do it for you. 


Interim Hearing 

This sort of hearing allows any parties to settle any urgent issues in the court, where they will issue interim orders. These sorts of orders will not become cemented until the final hearing, so if you suffer some less than desirable orders, don’t worry, they might change. 


Conciliation Conference/Mediation 

This sort of meeting is a way where both you and your ex partner can discuss, argue and negotiate matters of your dispute, out of court with the help of family lawyers and mediator. If you can come to an agreement on things and be civil out of court, it will favour everyone, especially your wallet. 


Independent Children’s Lawyer 

This sort of lawyer is appointed by the court to act on behalf of the child and ensure the best outcome is assured for them. If both parties are fighting and not acting in the interests of the child, an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) may be appointed if the matter is complex. An ICL is also commonly appointed if there is suspected issues of child abuse or risk.


Family Reporting 

This is when a psychologist or professional family consultant makes an assessment and gather evidences to show the court, which will help them make their decision. You might think it is a good idea to hide and choose not to omit some information, but let us tell you that it is always the best option to be transparent with the help of a lawyer.  


Final Hearing 

The final hearing is, as it might sound, the final court date where the assessments made by the court will be declared as final. Everything leading up to this moment is gathering evidence and formulating an argument. If you don’t have appropriate legal advice, your argument will be weak and the court may rule against you. 


Consent Orders 

At any point in the court proceedings any party can negotiate a final agreement, and have it formalised by the court. This is known as consent orders. The court will make final orders on the agreement between parties, if it is fair, equitable, and in the best interest of the kids. 


How Long Does Family Court Take? 

How long does the process take and how long after court hearing is divorce final? The length of family court depends on your situation and what is being passed through. However, usually the court process takes around eighteen months, and sometimes can extend further than 2.5 years. 

If you want to make sure you are in court for as little time as possible, so you can just get on with your life, you need the help of a family lawyer. 


Where To Hire A Family lawyer? 

Don’t let Google search stand in as your family lawyer. The information out there is incomprehensive and untrustworthy. 

So how do you find a family lawyer you can trust and rely on? With so many family law firms in Perth, it can be hard to find one who will understand and listen to your situation. 

Savannah Legal offers a free 1 hour consultation and we take the time to understand your situation, concerns and needs, before providing you with a legal plan outlining your options. Our goal is to give you affordable legal advice while lifting a burden off your shoulders. Book your free consultation today.

If you still have questions, such as; “how much does a family lawyer cost” and “how long does family court take in Australia”, we can help.

Disclaimer: The content on our website is intended to give general information about the law and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor. To the extent permitted by law, Savannah Legal is not responsible for and do not accept any liability for any loss, injury or damage, financial or otherwise, suffered by any person relying or acting on information contained in or omitted from the content on our website.


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