Divorce: Don’t Delay!
If you have been separated from your husband or wife for twelve months or more, you are eligible to apply for a divorce.
The divorce application is reasonably easy, but people are often put off by the cost. The current filing fee for an Application for Divorce is currently set at $940* and $310 if you are eligible for the reduced filing fee. If you engage a Lawyer to prepare the application, you will have legal fees in addition to the filing fee.
This is a big expense for most people and I often hear people say “I will just wait for my ex to apply”.
Let’s explore the potential problems in that approach, and consider whether you should consider an Application for Divorce an insurance policy against future problems.
Family Law Property Settlements
The ability to initiate a Family Law property settlement (in simple terms) remains alive for one year from the date of divorce no matter how long your separation.
I was recently involved in a case where an elderly couple had been happily married for 30 years, then happily separated for 30 years, they never divorced. My client, the wife made an application for property settlement, and despite the long period of separation, she was awarded one half of the husband’s home.
Circumstances change, and while your matrimonial assets may be modest when you separate, you want to be sure that what you earn, accrue, win or inherit remains yours, and is not subject to a property adjustment Order with your former spouse in the future.
This is particularly relevant if you have not updated your Will, or your superannuation beneficiaries.
If you have a Will that names your ex spouse and you are not divorced, then you ex spouse will inherit your estate and receive your superannuation.
If you do not have a Will, and you are separated but not divorced, the chances are your ex spouse will inherit your estate and receive your superannuation.
If you divorce, but forget to update your Will, your ex spouse will not inherit your Estate, and your superannuation fund is unlikely to pay your superannuation benefits to your ex-spouse.
To apply for a divorce generally, you will need to obtain the consent of your former spouse, or to serve them with the Application for Divorce. Trying to navigate this process many, many years after a separation can be tricky. There can be unresolved emotions, resentment, or the risk that consent will be coupled with a request for money.
Putting it off generally doesn’t make these things any easier.
I am often given the task of trying to track down a long lost spouse. This is not always easy, people move away, loose contact with mutual associates, and in some cases change their name. This can make finding people very difficult.
Clients often incur additional costs in these types of matters, which could have been avoided had the application been brought promptly.
The filing fees are not decreasing. While the $940* filing fee seems expensive, there is a good chance that it will be more expensive from July each year.
We can prepare your Application for Divorce, come and talk to our Family Law team.
If you are not inclined to apply for a divorce, then you should finalise your property matters with an Application for Consent Orders, and get our estate planning Lawyers to prepare your Will and Estate planning documents. Contact us today.
*Filing fees are subject to change. Please check with one of our family law team members about the current fee.