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As WA’s award-winning & leading Parenting, Custody & Children’s Matters Lawyers, we help you minimise fallout on family disputes with effective legal strategies.

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Filing for divorce? Get an understanding on the legal requirements for divorce, and how to prepare and apply for divorce successfully. Speak to one of the best divorce lawyers in Perth on how to file for divorce in WA and achieve the best possible outcome.

  • Legal advice for divorce
  • Prepare and apply for Divorce Application – Joint and Sole Applications
  • Serve divorce papers
  • Represent you at the Divorce Hearing
  • Breakdown your legal rights and entitlements in De Facto Relationships
  • Assist with issues arising following separation; Parenting Issues, Child Support, Property Settlement, and Spousal Maintenance

Who gets what in a divorce? Getting a divorce in WA does not automatically divide up assets and liabilities 50/50 or decide who gets the house. Our highly accredited divorce and separation lawyers in Perth have extensive experience in developing effective strategies and negotiating the division of property, family trusts and businesses, assets, liabilities, and superannuation.

Speak to the best lawyers for divorce in Perth about getting a legal strategy that has your best interests in mind.

  • Finalise property settlement
  • Dividing up your assets and liabilities
  • Preparing Consent Orders and Financial Agreements
  • Advise on financial and parenting arrangements

Divorce involving children can be difficult and stressful. When you apply for divorce, the Courts require you to have made proper arrangements for the care, welfare and development of your children. Our team of compassionate child custody lawyers can provide you with legal advice on working out living and care arrangements for your children and help you come to an agreement with your former spouse.

For legal guidance and support on all parenting and children matters relating to divorce applications in WA, book a free consultation today with Perth’s leading family law firm.

  • Drafting Parenting Plans
  • Negotiating family disputes
  • Applying for Consent Orders
  • Liaise with the Family Court on your behalf
  • Meeting parenting arrangements and child care requirements for divorce
  • Practical legal advice and guidance to get the best possible outcome

Do you believe you’re entitled or obliged to receive spousal maintenance or pay spousal maintenance? Get prompt legal advice on how to proceed to ensure your best interests are protected. When it comes to financial support, navigating spousal maintenance or child support with care, expertise and a legal plan is the key to avoiding unnecessary legal costs.

For legal advice on entitlements or obligations to pay or receive spousal maintenance, speak to our experienced divorce lawyers in Perth, WA.

  • Legal advice on eligibility for Spousal Maintenance for married couples
  • Legal advice on eligibility for Partner Maintenance for De Facto couples
  • Sort out financial aspects of child support and spousal maintenance
  • Prepare Spousal Maintenance Applications



Divorce is an emotional, confusing and time-consuming process, but it can be straightforward and less stressful with the right legal advice and strategy. To give you the best way forward on your family law issues, we start things off with a simple conversation to discuss your current situation. After some basic questions, we’ll book in a consultation with one of our specialist family lawyers best suited for you.


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This is the right time to ask all of your questions and let our family lawyer know about any concerns you may have. Based on your situation, we will be able to provide you with legal advice, and help you determine what are your next best steps moving forward.

Our mission is to help you navigate through divorce and resolve family law matters efficiently, so you can move on with your life.

"I will recommend you to my friends and family (should it ever arise that they are in need) and I will let them know the professional manner in which you conducted yourself and had my child's best interests at heart."


"Thank you so much for all of your support over the recent months. Your advice and assistance has been invaluable. I am really happy with the outcome we have achieved under the circumstances."


"I just wanted to say thank you to yourself (Lucy) and Danielle for all your support over the past seven months. Your support has been invaluable and I’m extremely grateful for the outcome we’ve achieved. I really appreciate everything you have done for my boys and I. Thank you. "


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Paterson & Dowding specialises in family law and has a team of highly skilled divorce lawyers in Perth. Paterson & Dowding’s divorce lawyers are devoted to building and maintaining strong and meaningful client relationships. Our family lawyers are located in Perth and Joondalup (and remotely via phone and Zoom), making it easy for you to meet with family law specialists. Our team of family lawyers are here to assist you with your divorce, including your financial settlements and issues involving children.

If you are applying for a divorce in Australia, there is a “no-fault” system of divorce. This means there is a single ground for divorce. This means the person applying for divorce must show that the marriage has broken down “irretrievably”. In order to do this, they must prove that they have separated and lived separately and apart for a continuous period of 12 months before filing an application for divorce. While they must be continuously separated for a period of 12 months, the legislation does encourage reconciliation by allowing cohabitation for one period of up to 3 months without nullifying the prior period of separation.

If you have children under 18 years of age, the Court cannot make a divorce order unless it is satisfied you have made proper arrangements for their care, welfare and development.

We can prepare your divorce application for you or alternatively, the Family Court now allows you to file your divorce application online. We are happy to help you prepare an application for divorce.


A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by the Court.

For the court to have jurisdiction, one party must satisfy at least two of the following:

  • You regard Australia as your home
  • You intend to live indefinitely in Australia
  • You have lived in Australia your entire life
  • You are an Australian citizen
  • You have lived in Australia for 12 months immediately before filing your divorce application

You must show the Family Court that:

  • You have been separated for a period of at least 12 months; and
  • There is no chance of reconciliation
  • If it has been less than two years since you married and you want to apply for divorce, you must obtain a counselling certificate or provide an affidavit to the Family Court requesting permission to file your divorce application

Note: in relation to your period of separation of one year, if you have lived together as husband and wife for 1 period of up to 3 months after separating then you can use the periods of separation before and after living together again as husband and wife to calculate the required 12 months’ separation for divorce.

You can apply for a divorce either online or in paper form. You will need to provide the completed application form, the filing fee and the marriage certificate.

Contact us if you require assistance in relation to completing the divorce application and attending the court hearing if required.

You can apply on your own (sole application) or with the other spouse (joint application). If you make a sole application, you will have to serve the application on the other spouse within 28 days prior to the divorce hearing. The Family Court has strict rules surrounding service of divorce applications, delays may occur if service is not conducted in line with Family Court rules.

No. In Australia we have a no-fault divorce system under the Family Law Act. This means that neither party has to prove that anyone was at fault in order to apply for a divorce.

The Court is unlikely to take fault into account when deciding how assets should be divided.

In some cases, such as where a party has been subjected to domestic violence, it can have an impact on the division of assets if it:

  • Makes one party’s contributions significantly more difficult than they should have been; or
  • Affects a party’s future prospects (e.g. – ability to support themselves going forward).

The nature of family law matters makes it extremely difficult to provide you with an estimate of your potential total legal costs.  Some or all of the following factors may have an effect on the amount of legal fees you may incur:

  • The size or complexity of your family and financial affairs.
  • The conduct of the other party and/or their lawyer.
  • The actual time we are required to spend to prepare your matter.
  • The cost of disbursements.  We have no control over some of these costs (such as court fees, expert report fees, search fees).
  • Whether you brief a barrister.
  • Whether it becomes necessary to issue or defend Court proceedings.
  • Whether your matter settles before or after the filing of court proceedings.

Quite often unforeseen issues arise.  For example, witnesses may alter their evidence, or new evidence may come into existence during your matter.  These things can obviously have a positive or negative impact on your case, which may require us to perform more or less work.  This will affect our costs.  You must be prepared to deal with these matters in a flexible manner.

If you are required to issue or defend court proceedings, we will provide you with formal updates of your costs at various stages of the proceedings as required under the Family Law Rules 2004 and Family Court Rules 1998.

Our lawyers charge their time on an hourly basis and will provide an estimate of costs at your initial meeting. If you and your former partner provide all the information within the time frame and cooperate, the collaborative practice will almost certainly be quicker and cheaper than a dispute resolved by a court hearing.

The Legal Profession Act 2008 Legal Profession (Family Court of Western Australia) Determination stipulates:

Hourly rates

(a) The hourly and daily rates set out in Table A are the maximum hourly and daily rates, inclusive of GST, which the Legal Costs Committee determines shall be used to calculate the dollar amounts chargeable by a legal practitioner, clerk or paralegal in providing advice and services to their own clients in respect of proceedings and potential proceedings in the Family Court.

(b) The daily rates set out in Table A are intended to cover all work done on a hearing or trial day, whether in or out of court, including preparation of written submissions and are not intended to be supplemented in any way by additional hourly charges given that the maximum number of hours allowed for the daily rate is 10 hours per day.


Table A

Fee Earner Maximum allowable hourly and daily rates
Senior Practitioner (permitted to practise on his or her own account for 5 years or more) (SP)° hourly rate $495
Junior Practitioner (permitted to practise on his or her own account for less than 5 years) (JP)° hourly rate $352
Restricted Practitioner (RP) °, # hourly rate $297
Clerk/Paralegal (C/PL) ## hourly rate $231
Counsel fees charged as a disbursement to practitioners or charged by in-house Counsel:

Counsel (C)* hourly rate

Daily rate $4,510
Senior Counsel (SC)* hourly rate $682
Daily rate $6,820

All clients receive a detailed Cost Agreement setting out Paterson & Dowding’s terms in relation to the scope of works. We aim to be transparent about costs at all times and to assist our clients with payment plans when required.

We can prepare the divorce application, organise for the respondent to be personally served with these documents, and represent you at the mandatory Divorce Hearing at the Family Court.

We can also help you with other common issues arising following separation, such as parenting issues, child support, property division and spousal maintenance.

A divorce application can be brought by either party to the marriage or jointly by both parties to the marriage. For a divorce order to be granted, the marriage must have broken down irretrievably. Broken down irretrievably means the court is satisfied that the parties separated and lived separately and apart for a continuous period of not less than 12 months immediately preceding the date of filing the application for divorce.

Where children are involved, the Family Court will not grant a divorce order unless it is satisfied that either, the children are 18 or older, the children are under 18 but proper arrangements have been made for their care, welfare and development (ie financial support, education, housing and medical needs) or there are circumstances where the divorce order should take effect anyway (for example, the whereabouts of the other party are unknown).

If the Court is not satisfied that arrangements for the care, welfare and development of a child have been met, it may adjourn proceedings until a report has been obtained from a family consultant.

A child is a child of the marriage if they were treated by the husband and wife as a child of their family at the relevant time. This includes ex-nuptial children of either party, adopted children by either of them or a child who is not a child of either of them. The relevant time is the time immediately before the husband and wife separate, or, if they’ve separated on more than one occasion, the time immediately before they last separated before the divorce order application was made.

A party may remarry when the divorce order has taken effect.

Most couples are completely unprepared for divorce and this lack of preparation, plus a lack of knowledge and understanding about what it takes to dissolve a marriage, can make a difficult and distressing time even more complicated and combative.

The more you know about divorce before you embark on the journey, the better for everyone involved.

From the cost of the actual divorce itself to alternative legal approaches, this article covers a few of the things that you need to know before you get divorced, but given that it’s an emotional, sometimes complicated and often challenging time, it’s always advisable to get professional help early on in the process.

In Australia, there are three separate legal procedures that have to be completed in order for a marriage to be completely dissolved, namely the granting of the Divorce Order, property settlement (dividing up the assets) and parenting arrangements (if there are children of the marriage). Very often, getting divorced is the most straightforward aspect of the relationship breakdown and the separate legal processes of formalising parenting arrangements and working out a financial settlement can be much more contentious and lengthy.

If the couple has children under the age of 18, the Court will only grant a divorce if it is satisfied that reasonable arrangements have been made for their care, including financial support, education and housing.

The Family Court can aggregate the periods of separation if the parties resume cohabitation on one occasion for not more than 3 months. The period of cohabitation is not included as part of the period of separation. Resuming a sexual relationship does not in itself constitute a resumption of cohabitation, it is one factor amongst many considered. Agreeing to resume cohabitation but not actually resuming cohabitation is not re-cohabitation. Where re-cohabitation occurs after a divorce order is filed, the court considers whether there is a likelihood of further re-cohabitation.

If the parties filed a divorce application and it is less than two years since you were married, they must file a signed certificate stating they have considered reconciliation with the assistance of a family counsellor or an individual or organisation nominated by a family consultant. Parties are exempt from needing a certificate if there are special circumstances and an affidavit is filed in support of the application. You should obtain legal advice in such circumstances.

When looking at whether a party has separated, the court looks at the action, intention and communication between the parties. Separation involves more than mere physical separation needed, it involves the breakdown of the marital relationship whereby at least one of the parties intends to and acts on severing or not resuming the marital relationship. For instance, in Campbell & Cade (2012) the court held the parties had not separated because they still acted as a couple by maintaining a sexual relationship, attending social functions together, staying in hotel rooms together and operating a joint bank account.

The Family Court will not grant a divorce order if it is satisfied there is a reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.

To prepare a divorce application, you can use the Family Court’s online divorce application. Alternatively, one of our family lawyers can help you prepare the application and:

  • a Paterson & Dowding family lawyer will arrange for the respondent to be personally served with the necessary documents;
  • represent you at the mandatory Divorce Hearing at the Family Court; and
  • assist with other common issues arising following separation, such as parenting issues, child support, property division and spousal maintenance. 

Please contact us to prepare your divorce application. Alternatively, the Family Court now allows you to file your divorce application online. Visit the website of the Family Court of Western Australia and follow the prompts. We are happy to help prepare your online application.


When an application for a divorce order is filed, one of the parties must be a citizen, regard Australia as home and intend to live indefinitely in Australia or ordinarily reside in Australia for 12 months before filing the application.

Citizenship is gained by birth, adoption, formal approval or being abandoned in Australia. If citizenship has been granted by formal approval ie a citizenship certificate, that approval is required by the court. The onus of proof for a change of domicile rests on the person asserting the change.

If the parties were married overseas, you should provide the original or certified copy of the certificate, entry or record of the marriage from the foreign country, and if it isn’t in English, an affidavit translating those documents.

If the parties were married in Australia, you should provide the original or certified copy of the marriage certificate. If the parties were married overseas, you should provide the original or certified copy of the certificate, entry or record of the marriage from the foreign country, and if it isn’t in English, an affidavit translating those documents. If the marriage certificate is not available, for example, it’s been destroyed, evidence of a marriage ceremony in accordance with family laws and customs of where the marriage occurred should be provided.

When the divorce application is filed, you will be given a Divorce Hearing date, which is when the divorce application is considered by the Family Court. This is usually between one to three months from the date of filing the divorce application.

If a divorce order has been made but not yet taken effect, the court may rescind the order if the parties have reconciled or rehear the proceedings on the grounds of fraud, perjury, suppression of evidence or any other reason it thinks fit on the application of one the parties or the Attorney-General. The divorce order cannot be appealed after it takes effect.

If you have been separated for more than 12 months you cannot oppose a divorce application unless the court does not have jurisdiction or there has not been 12 months’ separation as alleged in the divorce application.

If you do not want the divorce granted, you must complete and file a Response to Divorce setting out the reasons you seek the dismissal, and then appear in person at the divorce hearing date. You should file the Response to Divorce within 28 days of receiving the divorce application if you are in Australia or within 42 days if you are outside of Australia.

A party’s will is revoked by divorce unless it is made in contemplation of the divorce (ie the impending divorce is written in the will) or other evidence establishes such an intention.

There is a filing fee for divorce applications. Current fees are available on the Fees page of the Family Court.

In some cases, for example, if you hold certain government concession cards or you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for a reduced fee. To be eligible for a reduced fee for a joint application, both you and your spouse must qualify for the same reduction. If only one spouse qualifies for the reduction, then the full fee applies.

The Family Court may make what is known as ‘decree for the nullity of a marriage’ if they deem the marriage void.

A ‘decree of nullity of marriage’ can be instituted by either party to the marriage or jointly by both parties.

A marriage may be nullified for any of the following reasons:

  • either party at the time of the marriage was lawfully married to another person.
  • the parties are related ie siblings (whether whole or half), ancestors or descendants.
  • either party was under 18 years old unless the person is 16 or over and the court deems the circumstances so exceptional and unusual as to justify the marriage.
  • the union was performed in a foreign country between a man and a man or a woman and woman.
  • consent was invalid because it was obtained by duress or fraud.
  • that party is mistaken as to the identity of the other party.
  • that party is mistaken as to the nature of the ceremony performed.
  • that party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony.

The cost of a nullity as of the 1st of July 2020 is $1,320.

In some cases, for example, if you hold certain government concession cards or you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for a reduced fee. To be eligible for a reduced fee for a joint application, both you and your spouse must qualify for the same reduction. If only one spouse qualifies for the reduction, then the full fee applies.

If you qualify for financial hardship, the application for nullity reduced fee as at 1 July 2020 is $440.



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  • Consult with a specialist lawyer
  • Clear Communication
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  • Minimise time spent in court