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Many people confuse “divorce” with a property settlement. Divorce is simply the process whereby the court formally acknowledges that the marriage is over and orders that the marriage be terminated. A Divorce does not have any effect on children’s issues or property issues and is a separate matter (for more info on property settlements see Property Settlements).

In Australia there is only one ground for divorce and that is physical separation for no less than 12 months. Sometimes the court will grant the divorce if the parties have been separated under the same roof for some part of the 12 month period, however, this will need to be corroborated by an independent witness.

If there are no children under the age of 18, the court will generally not require a party to attend the hearing and the process can be dealt with by paperwork. If there are children under the age of 18, the court will require one of the parties to attend to verify the children’s current circumstances (for more info re custody of children see Children’s Custody Disputes).

Although the paperwork for a divorce is not unduly complicated, it needs to be typed and the requirements of the court in relation to service must be met. Parties should only attempt to handle their own divorce if they have the time and the facilities available to meet the court’s requirements in this regard.

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