Contrary to what we see in films and on television, the act of obtaining a divorce is actually a relatively straightforward and inexpensive process.
In its theory it’s much like undertaking any other legal application: you obtain the paperwork, fill it out correctly, lodge your application, and pay a filing fee. In practice, however, there can be more involved than simply lodging an application form. In this article, we’ll look into the various costs that factor into how much a divorce is in Australia.
So, how much does it cost to get a divorce in Australia?
Let’s start by breaking down the divorce application into its individual costs.
Initiating application fee
As the person making the application, you can expect to pay a fee for initiating the application. This can cost between $360—$715, depending on whether you’re seeking a final order, an interim order, or a financial or parenting order.
Application for Divorce
The Application for Divorce itself currently costs $930, plus the government filing fee. You’re required to pay this fee at the time of application.
You may be eligible for a reduced Application fee of $310 if:
- You’re considered living under financial hardship;
- You hold a Department of Human Services healthcare card, pensioner concession card, or a Department of Veteran’s Affairs that entitles you to such concessions;
- You’re receiving Legal Aid;
- You’re receiving youth allowance, Austudy, or ABSTUDY payments;
- You’re aged 18 or under; or
- You’re a prison inmate, or are legally detained in a public institution.
When applying, you’ll need to provide evidence of your eligibility in order to receive the reduced fee. It’s important to note that if you’re filing a joint application both parties must be considered eligible for the reduced fee in order to receive it. Otherwise, the full fee will apply.
If you apply for a divorce as a sole applicant, then you need to have your partner served with the application for divorce. As you’re not allowed to serve the application to them yourself, you can have this done by a third party, or by posting the documents to them directly. As such, you should factor postage fees into your costs too.
Choosing to have your application served through a professional divorce application service provider will incur its own fees, so if this is something you’re considering, we recommend you do your research first.
Response to the party initiating
If you’re the one who’s responding to an Application for Divorce then you typically won’t pay any fees if you agree with the application. However, if you oppose the divorce application, or you’re looking at asking the Court to make a different order, you’ll pay a fee of $360 to change the application.
Other fees that may affect the cost of your divorce
How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Australia?
Divorces with complexity may require the services and support of a qualified family lawyer. While there’s no hard and fast fee for the cost of a family lawyer, a good rule of thumb is that the more legal input is required, and the more time involved, and the higher the legal expenses.
There are three types of legal cost structures you may have heard of, or may see advertised for a divorce lawyer.
- No win, no fee. This fee structure is generally reserved for civil litigation matters such as contractual disputes or personal injury, and rarely occurs in family law matters.
- Fixed price. Fixed price fees work best for situations with a known outcome, and known financial disbursements. So things like conveyancing, probate, and wills. Family law is rarely procedural or simple, and the outcome isn’t always known. So if your family lawyer is charging a fixed fee for their services, this indicates they’ve added in a healthy buffer to ensure the price covers all eventualities, and as such, it may not be the most cost-effective option.
- Fee-for-service. As the name suggests, you only pay for the service you receive. Your family lawyer will generally charge at either an hourly rate, or in blocks of six-minute increments, or units. This method ensures you only pay for the service you receive.
With Pearsons Lawyers, we work on a fee-for-service model. Your family lawyer will provide you with an estimate of the length of proceedings at the initiation of your contract, and interim billing at regular intervals throughout the proceedings, so you always know what you’re spending.
In situations where you and your partner have split under less-than-amicable terms, a professional mediator may be required. The Mediator is the party who helps both partners resolve their issues in a fair way, allowing them to reach a mutual agreement.
Mediation is a specialised legal role, so it can be charged as part of your legal fees. Contact Pearsons Lawyers to discuss our options for specialised mediation support.
When divorcing it’s inevitable that your assets will be separated. So, it’s a good idea to get a formal property settlement completed that divides your assets fairly. This covers assets like property, businesses, shares, savings, vehicles, and superannuation entitlements.
You’ll need to factor the cost of this settlement into your divorce costs too.
Divorce means separating your income, which can be a big shock. Often one partner may not be able to meet their living expenses on a single income. In these circumstances, this partner may be entitled to receive spousal maintenance payments from the other.
If you have children under 18 years of age, the parent who undertakes the majority of the childcare duties is eligible to receive childcare payments from the other parent.
The eligible parent must make an application to the Child Support Agency to receive an administrative assessment of their child support, which takes into account their adjusted income and percentage of care. This figure is then agreed upon, and the other parent will be required to pay child support costs until a time dictated by the Court.
For further information to help answer the question of how much does it cost to get a divorce in Australia, head to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, or go directly to the Family Court of Australia for a fee breakdown.
How we can help
As you can see, divorce itself doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. But for divorce situations with complexity, it’s crucial to have experts in your corner.
Pearsons Lawyers are experts in all matters involving Family Law, including helping you manage the costs associated. If you’re after advice on your family law matter, get in contact with us on 1300 699 688 and book in with one of our family lawyers for a free consultation.