Can divorce be cheap?

3 September 2019 | All Separation & Divorce

How much does it cost to get a divorce in Australia and is there a cheap way to do it?

It’s easy to get confused about the stages and expenses of the divorce process as there are a few different steps required to become legally separated after the breakdown of a marriage. These are:

  • Divorce Divorce is an order by a court that officially ends a marriage. Divorce applications can be submitted 12 months after separation and require a once off fee of $910. Children & property issues do not need to be finalised for the application to be made, however these issues will need to be addressed with settlement and consent orders.
  • Financial/property settlement is the process of deciding who gets what, splitting debts/assets and resolving any joint account or ownership issues. Settlement can happen at any time from the date of separation until 1 year after divorce and requires a lawyer. There is no set fee for settlement as prices will vary depending on the individual, situation and how many hours/days are required to be in court with a lawyer.
  • A Consent order is an agreement between both parties approved by the court. Consent orders can be used for property settlement and for custody/parenting plans. As above, there is no set fee for settlement as prices will vary depending on the individual couples situation and how many hours/days are required to be in court with a lawyer.

To clarify, a divorce does not split assets and debts or decide on child custody orders, it is simply an order by a court that officially ends a marriage.

To split assets/debts and organise childcare/support you will need to go through settlement and have consent orders put in place. Not every marriage will require settlement and consent orders, however it is common practice and required by most couples.

In order to go through settlement and receive consent orders you will need to pay a lawyer at an hourly rate as well as pay the court fees.

The cost of divorce in Australia

In order to get divorced, you need to apply through the courts and pay a divorce filing fee. As of July 2019, the application fee for divorce is $910. There is a reduced rate available for people with a concession card or who would be put in financial hardship if they paid the full fee.

You can prepare your divorce service kit yourself and pay the application filing fee however it is advisable to have a family law expert such as MDV Family Lawyers to help you navigate the process and have the divorce order made as quickly and efficiently as possible.

After you file your application you will need to serve your application on the other party. often service can be difficult and that is why it is best to instruct an experienced family law lawyer like MDV Family Lawyers to assist you with your application.

Am I entitled to the reduced rate on the court filing fee?

The reduced rate for the application fee is $305. To be eligible for the reduced rate you will need to fit one of the below criteria:

  • Hold a government issued concession card such as a healthcare card or Commonwealth Seniors Health card.
  • Have been granted legal aid
  • Are receiving an income support payment such as Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy payments. 
  • Meet requirements from the income, living expenses and liabilities/assets calculator in the financial hardship application

In order to utilise the reduced fee, you will either need to lodge for the divorce on your own or ensure that both you and your ex-partner meet the requirements for the reduced fee. Failure to do so will result in the full fee being applicable.

How do I apply for a reduced rate?

To apply for the reduced rate, you will need to meet the requirements outlined above and complete an online form. You will need to provide supporting evidence of eligibility in order for your claim to be processed. 

Is it cheaper to file for sole or joint divorce?

The cost of divorce is not affected by the couples choice to file. Whether they file as an individual or together, the cost will remain the same. The only benefit to filing together is that it removes the need to serve papers to the other party and could reduce the amount of hurt feelings and conflict.

How much will I pay a lawyer to get divorced?

mdv family lawyers charges a fixed fee for a divorce application of $880.00. this cost covers the lawyers professional time to prepare the application and appear at the divorce hearing. the costs of serving the application is additional as is the court filing fee.

How much will property settlement cost?

After you submit and pay for the divorce application, you still need to decide how to divide you debts and assets and arrange custody of children. This is where property settlement and consent orders come in, and this is the part that can get costly. 

The cost of property settlement is different for each couple and is based on their individual circumstances. How amicable the couple is plays a big role in the timeframe and cost of the divorce. 

If the couple is amicable and can decide how to split their assets and debts with little argument, then the amount of time required in court and with a lawyer is heavily reduced, thus reducing the cost. An amicable property settlement can cost from $3,000 – $10,000 depending on how much your lawyer charges and how much work is involved finalising any agreement already reached between the parties..

A more complicated property settlement where the couple is highly emotional, hurt and argumentative could take years to finalise. If you cannot resolve your property settlement amicably as a general guide, one day at a final hearing in court can cost you as much as $10,000 per day. 

The quicker you can settle, the cheaper it will be. 

Need help?

The average person may not understand how the divorce process works and it can be a stressful and overwhelming time when you are going through it. Using a family law specialist such as MDV Family Lawyers can help you navigate the settlement process and ensure that everything is as stress free and amicable as it can possibly be.

As experienced family law lawyers, we are well equipped to save you the most money in your divorce and ensure that you get what you are entitled to. Above all, we will help you to make decisions based on solutions rather than emotions. As mentally challenging as divorce is, rash decisions based on immediate feelings can lead to you losing money.

If you require help navigating your divorce, get in touch with the divorce and family law experts at MDV Family Lawyers. Here to support you through the divorce process from filing to settlement whilst ensuring that your assets, property and future is protected.

Call today: 02 4421 7455