Who will hear my application?
Divorce applications are normally heard by sessional registrars engaged by the Federal Circuit Court.
A registrar is a court lawyer who has been given the power to perform particular tasks, such as grant divorces.
When will my application be heard?
If you make an application together, it will be listed at least 28 days after you file it.
If either party makes an application on their own, it will be listed at least:
- 42 days later if the other party is in Australia; and
- 56 days later if the other party is overseas.
Depending on the business of the Court, it may be listed more than 28, 42 or 56 days after you file it.
[see Family Law Rules 2004 r 3.01]
Do I need to attend the hearing?
If you do not attend the hearing of your application, it may be dismissed in your absence [see Family Law Rules 2004 r 3.08(2)(a)].
However, you can request that your application be heard in your absence if you are making the application together (even if there are children of the marriage under the age of 18 years). However, the Court must still be satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the care, welfare and development of your children [see Family Law Rules 2004 r 3.10].
If you are making an application on your own, you can still request that it be heard in your absence provided that the other party does not oppose it and there are no children of the marriage under the age of 18 years [see Family Law Rules 2004 r 3.09].
If you are unable to attend in person, you may ask the Court in writing for permission to appear by telephone at least seven days before the hearing [see Family Law Rules 2004 r 5.06].
Is there anything else I should do before the hearing?
Yes, you should telephone the Family Law National Enquiry Centre on 1300 352 000 a week or so before the hearing to confirm the time your divorce will be heard.
What should I do at the hearing?
You should arrive at least 15 minutes early.
When you arrive at the court building you should look for the name and number of your case and the number of the courtroom, as there are a number of courtrooms where cases are heard. A list of the cases being heard is displayed in the foyer of the court building.
If possible, it is a good idea to locate the court orderly at your courtroom and notify them that you are there. Sit close by the courtroom where you will hear when the court orderly calls on your case.
When the court orderly calls on your case, you will go into the courtroom and sit at the long table (the bar table) facing the Registrar.
The hearing of the divorce is not likely to take more than a few minutes. The Registrar must be satisfied that the other party has been correctly served and that the twelve month separation period and other requirements have been proved.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.