International and Overseas Divorce
Australia, due to its no fault system, is one of the simplest jurisdictions in the world to obtain a divorce. You do not have to prove the break down of the marriage was the fault of the other party as is the case in many other parts of the world. The only thing you do have to prove is that you were separated for a period of at least 12 months. If you are an Australian living in an overseas jurisdiction you may be able to apply for divorce in Australia. If you are a citizen of another country living in Australia and your country of citizenship does not have a no fault divorce then you may still be able to apply for divorce in Australia.
Some countries may require a longer period and some may require a shorter period following the break down of a marriage before you can apply for a divorce. If you are an Australian living overseas in a jurisdiction that require a longer period of separation, you may still be able to obtain a divorce in Australia. Conversely, if you are in Australia but you or your former spouse has some connection to an overseas jurisdiction that requires a shorter period of separation, you may be able to apply for a divorce in that jurisdiction. Whatever, the case maybe, it is important to know that Australia recognises a divorce obtained from an overseas jurisdiction, if certain conditions are met.
The conditions are set out in section 104 of the Family Law Act 1975 (“the Act”). One of the conditions is that the Respondent in the proceedings in that foreign jurisdiction is either a resident or a citizen of that country. There are other conditions that may enable the overseas divorce to be recognised. For example, it states that such divorce will also be valid if one of the applicants in that divorce proceeding is a resident of that country at the time of the application for the divorce.
An overseas divorce may not always be beneficial to you. For example, in some countries, a divorce order may also conclude your financial matters using a different methodology to that used in Australia and in some cases may produce a drastically different result. Therefore, it is extremely important to seek advice from a family lawyer in Australia and in that overseas jurisdiction before making a decision as to where to get divorced.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?