Separation is often seen as a costly process. The first question asked by couples looking to finalise their separation is how much does divorce cost in NSW?
The answer is as simple or complicated you wish to make it. Costs will largely depend on what you are looking to achieve. Specifically, if you are merely seeking to formalise the separation from your partner, then the process is relatively simple and cheap.
However, if your matter is more complicated, either by virtue of the nature of your marriage or the circumstances of your separation, the process may be a lot less straightforward and the question of how much does divorce cost in NSW becomes a lot more tricky to answer.
Further, if you are seeking to undertake additional processes, such as the formalisation of parenting orders or the separation of joint property and savings, the costs will inevitably increase further.
This article aims to provide you with a conclusive answer to the question – How much does divorce cost in NSW?
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Court Filing Fees
The first consideration in determining how much does divorce cost in NSW is an assessment of Court filing fees that you will be required to pay in the lodgment of your application.
For the marjoity of parties, the filing fee associated with an Application for Divorce is $990.00. There is no GST payable on this amount and it is a flat fee of $990.00
Although it is not possible to completely waive the fee assoicated with Divorce, certain parties may seek permission from the Court to attend to a reduced filing fee of $330.00.
Assuming that your divorce matter is relatively straightforward, the answer to the question of how much does divorce cost in NSW may simply just include the filing fee and nothing further. You may seek to further reduce this amount by applying for a reduced filing fee, however you should be aware of the necessary requirements to obtain this reduction.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Reduced Filing Fee:
To receive the benefit of a reduced filing fee, it is necessary to supplement your divorce application with evidence of any of the following:
- Evidence that you hold a concession card issued by the Department of Human Services, Health Care Card (not simply a Medicare card), Pensioner Concesion Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, or any other card issued by the Department of Human Services or Department of Veterans’s Affairs; or
- Evidence that you have received a grant of Legal Aid; or
- Evidence that you are in receipt of Youth Allowance, Austudy, or Abstudy payments; or
- You are aged 18 or under, an inmate of a prison, or otherwise legally detained in a public institution.
Is it important to note that if you are seeking to make an application for a reduced filing fee to a joint application for divorce, it is necessary that both you and your former partner have evidence of the above.
It is not enough that one party to the application has evidence to meet the requirements of a reduced filing fee. Rather, both parties are required to provide separate evidence to support the reduced payment.
In circumstances where one party may have evidence to support an application for the reduced filing fee, it may be considered whether the application should be lodged as a sole application (although it will be necessary to provide evidence of personal service, which usually attracts additional costs).
In relation to the question of how much does divorce cost in NSW, the first step is to determine whether you may be eligible to apply for a reduction of the necessary filing fee.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Financial Hardship
Should you lack the necessary evidence to apply for a reduced filing fee, it may still be possible for you to seek a reduction of the Court’s filing fee. You will be required to complete and lodge an additional document which outlines your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. The Court will then consider this information and make a determination as to whether you meet the requirements for a reduced filing fee based on financial hardship.
Completing the Application for Divorce
It is further necessary to consider the costs associated with completing your Application for Divorce. Where your matter is uncontroversial, it may be possible for you to complete this form by yourself. However, it is noted that the Court is very rigid in the expectation that Court Forms should be completed accurately and without any defects or ambiguities. A simple mistake such as the misspelling of a former partner’s maiden name, incorrectly recording the date of marriage and/or the location of marriage is sufficient to ensure that your application is rejected and the process will likely start from scratch.
In considering how much does divorce cost in NSW, it is important to note that a defective application will likely mean that you are required to attend to further costs to fix these issues or otherwise re-pay the Court’s filing fee so that you may re-lodge an amended application.
Accordingly, it is often a good idea to instruct a family lawyer to complete this application on your behalf and ensure that it is done correctly the first time. Legal costs associated with the completion of a divorce application will vary based on the complexity of your matter. Costs may range from $500 for a simple application or increase considerably where there are greater complexities in your matter.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Service of Documents
If your application for divorce is filed jointly (with the consent of both parties), there is no requirement that you attend to the personal service of the filed application.
By contrast, if an application is filed solely by one party, the Court will require evidence that the filed application has been personally served on the respondent.
The Court permits anyone who is not party to the proceedings and who is over the age of 18 to effect service of the divorce application. However, that party will be required to complete an affidavit of service providing evidence of service. This is often a complicated process and any defect will likely result in the affidavit being rejected and/or the dismissal of your application.
Rather, to avoid unnecessary headache, it is recommended that you instruct a professional process server to assist you in the personal service of your filed application. Costs associated with service will depend on the complexity of service. Assuming that a process server is just required to knock on your former partner’s front door and hand them the documentation, costs are unlikely to exceed $100-$200.
By contrast, if a process server is required to undertake additional research or investigations, make multiple attempts to serve documents due to the inability to locate your former partner, or travel extensive distances to effect service, costs can range anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Application for Substituted Service
It is also necessary to consider whether you may be required to attend to the costs associated with substituted service. Where it is not possible to personally serve your former partner, you will be required to file a separation application which seeks permission from the Court for your divorce application to be serve in a manner other than personal service.
Substituted service may include service by email, text message, facebook, or even service through a third-party (such as a immediate family member of your former spouse).
An application for substituted service will only be required where it is not possible to serve your former partner through the traditional means of personal service. An example may include where you do not know the residential or employment address of your former partner, or where your former partner does not reside within Australia.
The costs of an application for substituted service can greatly increase the costs associated with your application. In addition to completing and filing a separate application in your matter, you will also be required to prepare and file an affidavit which outlines the reasons why substituted service is required.
In addition, you will likely receive a separate hearing date to determine your application of substituted service, and this hearing will be independent of the divorce hearing itself. This means that you may be required to attend to the costs associated with two separate court hearings – one to seek permission for substituted service, and a second to determine your application for divorce (once it has been successfully served).
A separate application inclusive of attendance at Court to make submissions on your behalf can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 depending on the nature of the matter.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Attendance at Court for the Divorce Hearing
Where an application for divorce is filed jointly (with the consent of both parties), it is not necessary to attend Court on the date that your matter is heard.
Where an application is filed solely, and you do have children under the age of 18, you will be required to be present at Court on the date that your matter is heard.
Assuming that your application has been completed correctly, filed correctly, served correctly, and evidence of service has been lodged correctly – your matter should be relativley straightforward. Attendance before the Court should only take a matter of minutes.
However, the Court will generally hear a number of separate divorce matters on the same occasion. If you are lucky enough to be heard first, you should expect to be in and out in no time at all. However, if you are not immediately heard, you should anticipate waiting at Court for your matter to be eventually called. It often is just luck of the draw.
Although it is often possible for a party to attend Court personally, you run the risk of being asked questions that are not readily answerable by someone who is inexperienced in the family court. Example questions may include the Court’s enquiry as to the service of filed documents, confirmation of the current care, education, and health arrangements for any children of the parties, and confirmation in relation to how a divorce order may affect the wellbeing of the children.
In the majority of cases, the questions asked are relatively straight forward. However, it only takes one problematic response to attract the criticism and reservation of the Court. Where the Court is not satisfied that a Divorce Order will have no adverse effects on the wellbeing of children subject to the relationship, the Court may ultimately adjourn or dismiss your application for divorce. Accordingly, we advise that you seek the assistance of an experienced family lawyer to act on your behalf in your divorce proceedings.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in NSW – Conclusion
As acknowledged at the start of this article, the question of how much does divorce cost in NSW is as simple or complicated you wish to make it.
You must account for:
- Costs associated with the completion of your application;
- Costs associated with the filing of your application at the Court;
- Costs associated with the payment of the Court’s filing fee (or reduced fee);
- Costs associated with the personal service of your application;
- Costs associated with an application seeking substituted service (if applicable); and
- Costs associated with attendance at the Divorce Hearing.
You should also anticipate that if any step is completed incorrectly, your applicaiton may be delayed, adjourned, or even dismissed. It will then become necessary for you to attend to the payment of a fresh filing fee and repeat the steps above until they have been completed successfully.
We have heard horror stories of relatively straight forward divorce proceedings costing in excess of $5,000 simply due to the inexperience of a party and repeated mistakes made along the way.
Guardian Family Law is available for a free consultation in relation to your application for Divorce and are happy to assist you in this process.