Sometimes marriages just don’t work out and the parties realise that it won’t work out within first couple of years or an even shorter timeframe.

To obtain a divorce in Australia there is a fundamental requirement that you must first have been separated for 12 months before you can apply for a divorce, but with marriages of less than 2 years there is an additional requirement that you must attend counselling with a family counsellor or nominated counsellor. You can get help locating one here.

Once the counselling has taken place, your counsellor will need to complete a certificate confirming that you and your spouse have had discussions about the possibility of a reconciliation. This certificate will then need to be lodged with your Application for Divorce.

Without this certificate, if you want to nevertheless apply for a divorce within 2 years of the date of marriage, you will need to first seek permission of the court. To seek the permission of the court, you will need to lodge an affidavit explaining why you are not attending counselling. An affidavit is a written statement you swear or affirm and which is used as your evidence in court.

Often, people who are unable or unwilling to attend counselling are people who can no longer locate their spouse, or people who have experienced violence in the hands of their spouse and do not feel safe attending counselling.

I have found that once made aware of the requirements, clients will often just choose to wait until 2 years from the date of marriage has passed before applying for a divorce, and thus avoid the need to obtain the permission of the court or attend at marriage counselling.

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