In legal terms divorce is the formal ending of a marriage. What confuses many people is that they associate this word “divorce” with all the other things that need to be done when couples separate such as dividing up their property and working out the parenting arrangements for their children.
Divorce laws in Australia are the same in all states and territories as marriage is covered by Federal Law. For a divorce to be granted the court needs to be satisfied that you have been separated for at least 12 months and there is no reasonable likelihood of you reconciling with your spouse. If there are children of the relationship you must also show proper arrangements have been put in place for the children’s care and welfare.
Should you wish to marry another person you must divorce your current spouse prior to doing so. Failure to divorce prior to remarrying another person invalidates the second marriage as the marriage is considered bigamous. Bigamy is a criminal offence and carries a penalty of imprisonment for up to 5 years.
Following your divorce you have 12 months to commence property proceedings or make a claim for spousal maintenance. If you have not resolved these issues and don’t commence proceedings within the 12 month period you will need to obtain the court’s permission to commence proceedings out of time, which cannot be taken for granted.