Can I get divorced in Australia if I was married overseas?

20/10/2014

You may make an application for divorce in Australia if you or your spouse is:

(a)       an Australian Citizen;

(b)       “domiciled” in; and

(c)        an ordinary resident of Australia and has lived in Australia for the last 12 months.

“Domiciled” means that you or your spouse regard Australia to be your home country.

A marriage certificate issued by an authorised body of an overseas country is evidence of marriage.  An “authorised body” of an overseas country is an organisation that is authorised to perform marriages within that country for example, churches or other religious organisations.  You must provide a copy of your marriage certificate with your application for divorce.  If your marriage certificate is issued in a language other than english, you must provide an english translation of your marriage certificate.

In some (unusual) cases there may be two Courts, for example, the Family Court in Australia and a Family Court in another country that would have a right to determine the issue and annul a marriage.  However, there can be in those circumstances a question as to which of the two countries has the superior right to deal with the divorce.  In certain circumstances there are different consequences in relation to the issues that arise in property, spousal maintenance, child support and child custody depending on which country has the superior right and determines the matters on the breakdown of a marriage.

Often in these circumstances timing is a very important issue and it is important to have an early consideration of these aspects.  If you have any doubt or queries please discuss with Dennis Grant or Richard Watson of Watson & Watson.

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