Divorce & Separation


Separation and divorce can be hard and many people experience difficulty adjusting to life after separating from their partner. Counselling can help you explore the possibilities of a reconciliation, or to work through the process of separating. Counselling can also assist you to resolve matters affecting the welfare of children.

If an application has been made in the Family Court in relation to children, counselling may be directed by the Court. This counselling may involve the children depending on the age of the children and the issues in dispute.

There are government funded and private counselling services available within the community. We can assist you to find an appropriate counsellor or service which suits your individual needs.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternate dispute resolution processes such as negotiation, mediation and collaboration may help you resolve property or parenting matters without the need to become involved in Court proceedings.


Negotiation can be a formal or informal process where parties seek to resolve disputes directly with each other, often with the assistance of legal representatives. Negotiations frequently take place through written proposals made between the parties and can also involve formal meetings.

At Pigdon Norgate, we can facilitate negotiations between you and your former partner in collaboration with you. We can also advise you on your rights and entitlements in respect of both property and parenting matters to ensure that any agreements reached are in your best interests and those of your children.


Mediation involves a trained mediator, acting as a neutral third party, who works with you and your former partner to help resolve your issues on an amicable basis. This can be an informal or formal process which may involve your respective legal representatives.

At Pigdon Norgate, we can provide guidance to you throughout every step of the mediation process, including facilitating the exchange of disclosure and preparing you for the meetings. We can also assist you to formalise any agreements reached at mediation through Court orders or binding agreements to ensure final settlement of your matter.


The Family Law Act 1975 provides that parties may attend arbitration as a non-court based family service. Parties may elect to attend arbitration, or it may be ordered by the Court for them to do so. Arbitration is adversarial in nature, however it is less formal than a Court hearing. This process allows for the parties to elect a mutually agreeable time to attend the arbitration.

Arbitration can act as a court alternative in circumstances where there is heightened conflict between the parties which the parties wish to resolve efficiently and without the involvement of the Court. The decision made during arbitration, referred to as an award, is comparably as binding and enforceable as a Court order.

At Pigdon Norgate, we can assist you in preparing for an arbitration by considering your legal rights and entitlements, as well as the future needs of yourself and your children.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is an alternate dispute resolution process which involves the parties and their legal representation entering into an agreement which provides that the legal representative must withdraw if an application is made to the Court. By electing not to go to Court an outcome can be reached which best meets the needs of the parties and their children without the underlying threat of litigation.

At Pigdon Norgate, our lawyers are trained in collaborative practice and can provide you with practical advice in respect of your legal entitlements throughout the entire process.

Divorce Procedures

Either party to a marriage can apply for a divorce after they have been separated for 12 months. The parties must have lived separately and apart during that time although they can have lived in the same house.

An Application for Divorce is separate from property settlement applications and parenting proceedings.

Applications for Divorce are filed online in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Common questions about Divorce & Separation

How do I apply for a Divorce?

  • Australia is a “no fault” jurisdiction. As long as there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”, you can make an application for Divorce. You do not need to give the Court any reason for why you have decided to separate.
  • You can file an Application for Divorce on your own or you can make the application jointly with your spouse.
  • You must have been separated for at least 12 months before you can file an Application for Divorce.
  • You file the Application for Divorce online in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
  • An Application for Divorce Kit is available on the Federal Circuit Court website here.

Separation under one roof: Can I still apply for a divorce even if we have been living in the same home?

  • You can make an Application for Divorce even if you lived in the same house during the 12 months of separation.
  • However, you will need to prove to the Court that you were in fact living separately in the same house during this time.  This is done by filing an affidavit from both you and your spouse or from you and another person who can give evidence that you lived separately while living in the same home.

What happens after I file my divorce application?

  • At the time of filing your Application for Divorce a date will be allocated for the hearing of your application.
  • If you have filed the application on your own, you must then arrange for the application to be personally served on your spouse. You cannot give the application to your spouse yourself. You must arrange for someone else to deliver the application to your spouse.
  • If you have children under 18 years of age, unless it is a joint application, the spouse making the application will need to attend Court for the hearing. If it is a joint application, it is dealt with in the absence of the parties on the date notified at the time the application was filed. You will need to check the Court portal to confirm that the Divorce Order has been made.
  • The Divorce Order becomes final one month and one day after it is made by the Court.

What if we have children?

If there are children under the age of 18, the Court must be satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the welfare of your children before it grants a Divorce Order. The Application for Divorce must therefore include details as to the housing, education, health, financial support and other arrangements for the children.

Do I need to be divorced to have a property settlement?

  • You do not need to be divorced to have a property settlement.  Property settlement is separate from divorce.
  • However, once you are divorced (that is once the divorce is final) you must make an application for a property settlement or spousal maintenance within 12 months from the day the divorce became final. There are limited circumstances where the Court will allow an application for property settlement to be made outside this limitation period.

Put an expert on your side

At Pigdon|Norgate Family Lawyers we specialise in all aspects of divorce and separation, providing guidance every step of the process to help you move forward.