Serving an application for divorce: The necessary steps

Date: Sep 29, 2015

As we all know, divorces are a complicated process from start to finish, and it's often necessary to get family lawyers involved simply to make this undertaking easier to manage.

With this in mind, it can still be useful to understand how to serve an application for divorce, as this is a necessary step in the proceedings. Here we will explain how the process actually works, from start to finish.

Getting started - Serving the papers

Once you've filed an Application for Divorce with the Federal Circuit Court, the necessary first step, you're able to serve your divorce documents. Essentially, serving these documents involves someone delivering them to your spouse, in accordance with court rules.

It is extremely important to note that you are unable to serve these documents yourself and you must serve them at least 28 days prior to the divorce hearing. If your partner is overseas when you need to serve the papers, you are required to give them at least 42 days notice before the hearing.

What papers need to be served?

Several papers need to be served to your spouse, including:

  • The Application for Divorce - a copy also needs to be filed and stamped by the court;
  • The Marriage, Families and Separation brochure; and
  • Any other relevant supporting documents, which will vary depending on the situation.

Who can serve the papers?

As you are unable to take the papers to your spouse yourself, you'll need to find someone to carry out the process. This can be simple, as you are able to ask anyone over the age of 18 to do so. They can take the papers to your partner's home address or workplace.

Alternative serving options include a private process server or even a Sheriff of the Local Court. These are professionals who understand the process, and can be a good choice in many instances.

Do I have to serve papers?

If you want a service waived you'll have to complete a separate application that requests this. This application will need to include:

  • The last time contact was made between you and your spouse;
  • Any attempts you have made to locate your spouse.

Essentially, this application needs to show that you've tried every option to contact your spouse and have had no success. This application needs to be filed alongside your Application for Divorce.

Before serving an application for divorce or engaging in divorce proceedings of any kind, it's a good idea to reach out to experienced family lawyers to learn more about the best course of action for a particular case.