Serving Divorce Papers in Australia: What You Need to Know
Serving divorce papers in Australia? Understand the service requirements and methods with our expert guidance for seamless proceedings.
Serving Divorce Papers in Australia: What You Need to Know

When you initiate a divorce application, it is crucial to ensure that the necessary documents, including the application itself, are delivered to your former spouse. This process is known as 'service,' and it comes with various methods and requirements. In this blog post, we will delve into the considerations involved in serving divorce papers in Australia.

The requirements for serving divorce papers depend on the nature of your application.

In joint applications, both parties sign and file the divorce application together. In such cases, formal service is not required, and your former spouse doesn't need to file any response documents.

Sole applications, on the other hand, are made by one spouse only. In this scenario, you are obligated to serve the divorce papers on your ex-spouse, ensuring they are aware of the application and have the opportunity to file a response.
Documents to Serve on Your Ex-Partner

When serving divorce papers, several documents must be provided to your former spouse:
A copy of the Application for Divorce sealed by the Court.
A sealed copy of the Affidavit of eFiling.
A copy of the Court-prescribed brochure "Marriages, families and separation," available on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
An Acknowledgment of Service document.
Additionally, you should include a letter with signing instructions for the Acknowledgment of Service and guidance on how to return the document to you.
Methods of Serving Family Law Court Documents

Various methods are available for serving divorce papers in Australia, depending on your specific circumstances:
By Hand:
An individual over the age of 18, other than yourself, can personally serve the documents on your ex-partner. If finding someone to do this is challenging, or if you believe it is more appropriate, you can engage a professional process server.
By Post:
If you are confident that your ex-partner will sign and return the Acknowledgment of Service, you may serve them via Australia Post. However, if you are unsure about their cooperation, postal service may not be suitable.
Service on Your Ex-Partner’s Lawyer:
Serving documents on your ex-partner's lawyer is an option if they have legal representation willing to accept service on their behalf.
In certain circumstances, such as when your former spouse is disabled, in prison, or overseas, additional requirements may apply for serving documents by hand.
Time Limits for Serving Divorce Papers

Time limits apply to serving divorce papers, depending on your ex-partner's location:

  • If your ex-partner is within Australia, all court documents must be served on them at least 28 days before any court hearing.
  • If your ex-partner is not in Australia, service must be completed at least 42 days before any court hearing.

In some situations, serving documents on your former spouse may prove challenging. You may be unable to locate them, or they may evade service. In such cases, you can apply to the Court for substituted service. This allows you to serve the documents on a third party approved by the Court, who can then pass them on to your spouse.

To make this application, you must submit an Affidavit detailing all the efforts you have made to serve the documents personally.
After Service: Completing the Process

After serving the divorce papers, you must file a completed Affidavit of Service or Affidavit Proving Signature, along with the Acknowledgment of Service signed by your former spouse. This step is essential to confirm that your ex-partner has received all necessary documents and is aware of the Divorce Application.

Initiating a divorce application, ensuring proper service of documents, and navigating the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia's requirements during divorce proceedings can be complex. At Genuine Legal, we offer expert assistance to make the process as seamless as possible. Reach out to us for your free 1-hour consultation through our website or by phone at (07) 2113 4646. After hours and urgent assistance mobile: +61 405 064 960 (Principal Solicitor).
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