A question that is frequently asked leading to a divorce, is just how much it will cost to get divorced.
This question is quite difficult to provide a simple answer to. This is because there is a wide range of considerations involved in the process which may or may not be applicable to one’s individual circumstances that contribute to the cost of divorce. The aim of this post will be to provide some clarity on the various circumstances which arise in relation to getting divorced, with the goal of shedding light on what you can financially expect in this tough time.
The Filing Fee
The Filing Fee for a divorce application (as of 31 March 2021) is $930 – Please note this amount increases incrementally each year.
In some instances, you may be eligible for a reduced fee of $310. Such circumstances include:
- When experiencing financial hardship.
- You hold certain government concession cards.
Both spouses must be eligible for the same reduction to obtain the reduced fee for a joint application.
Fee Exemption Or Reduction
In some instances, reduced fees may be possible for divorce applications, decrees of nullity and other family law fees.
You will be eligible for a reduced fee If you hold any of the following cards:
- Health care card
- Commonwealth senior’s health card
- Pensioner concession card
- Any other card issued by the Department of Human services
- Any other card issued by the Department of Veteran’s Affair
Other situations where you will be eligible for a reduced fee:
- If you have been granted Legal aid
- You receive youth allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY payments
- You are under the age of 18
- You are an inmate of a prison, or lawfully apprehended in a public institution.
If any of these circumstances are applicable to you, tick ‘yes’ at question 1 of the online application for divorce and attach evidence to support your claim to be eligible for the reduced fee.
Knowingly making a false representation or statement regarding these matters to illegitimately obtain a benefit can result in a fine, or even imprisonment. As prior mentioned, both spouses must be eligible for the same reduction to obtain the reduced fee for a joint application.
Note: GST is not applicable to court fees.
The test to determine your eligibility for financial hardship involves the registrar, or an authorised officer considering your daily living expenses, income, assets, and liabilities. The test will be considered each time there is a fee payable in any proceeding.
Part 1 – Income
The income test is a calculation of your gross income which encapsulates any of the following:
- Employment income
- Income from financial investments including bank accounts, shares and managed investments
- Foreign income
- Any compensation you receive
- Fringe benefits provided by employer
- Centrelink payments, benefits, and pensions
- Department of Veteran’s Affairs payments
- Reportable super contributions (salary sacrifice)
- Rental income
- Allocated pensions
- Superannuation pensions
- Lump sump payments you have received
- Private trusts
- Paid Parental Leave
- New Enterpise Incentive Sheme
The table below indicates the maximum gross income you may receive each fortnight in accordance with how many people (spouse and children under 18) are dependent on you. Any children you pay child support for are also counted.
|People dependent on you (including children under 18 and spouse)||Allowed income each fortnight before tax|
Part 2 – Assets Test
Your liquid assets will be considered for exemptions. This encapsulates your cash or convertible shares or bonds. These liquid assets must be lower than five times the payable fee in question.
- A filing fee is $165
- 5 x $165 = $825
In this scenario you will be eligible if:
- Your liquid assets are less than $825 (five times the payable fee figure)
- You satisfy the day-to-day living expensies and liabilities test of part 3
For example, a filing fee of $165 will not have to be paid if your liquid assets are less than $825 (5 x $165 = $825) and you meet the income, and day-to-day living expenses, and liabilities tests (see part 3).
For a comprehensive list of matters considered in the Assets Test, please see the table under ‘Part 2 – Assets’ of the Family Court Government Website.
Part 3 – Day-To-Day Living Expenses And Liabilities Test
If you have additional income after meeting your reasonable day-to-day living expenses and payments towards your liabilities, the courts may find you are able to pay the full fee without financial hardship.
Your reasonable day-to-day living expenses include things such as:
- Phone bills
- Costs of running a motor vehicle such as fuel
- Home Mortgage Payments
- Credit Card Payments
- Other Loans
- Lease repayments
Your request not to pay the full fee will be granted if:
- Your surplus fortnightly disposable income is below the limits show in the table here under Part 3
- You satisfy parts 1 and 2
How Is My Surplus Income Calculated?
Your disposable or ‘surplus’ fortnightly income will be calculated based on your fortnightly income received after tax, minus your fortnightly day-to-day living expenses.
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for an exemption or reduction, and yet the circumstances of your income, assets, liabilities and living expenses are at a means where paying the entire fee would cause you great financial difficulty, you may still apply for an exemption or reduction based on financial hardship.
To apply for a reduction of payment of divorce or decree of nullity please see here.
To apply for an exemption from fees regarding family law see here.
A Request for deferral of court fees (family law) will be successful where:
- Filing of the document is so urgent that it overrides the requirement to pay the filing fee at the time of filing.
- Whether it would be oppressive or otherwise unreasonable to require immediate payment of the fee.
Refunds are allowed when:
- You have paid a full fee when you were entitled to an exemption or fee reduction
- For hearing feels when you have given written notice to the court
- For hearings called at short notice (you have had less than 10 days notice)
- Refunds of hearing fees if appearance at hearing was only to formalise the making of final orders or the hearing does not proceed on the allocated day.
- Conciliation conference fees if the proceeding discontinued or settled prior to the conference being held
Refunds must be filed via a Request for refund of court fees.
Other Costs Of Divorce
Apart from the costs associated with filing for a divorce highlighted above, a divorce may involve additional expenses such as:
- Lawyers fees
- Negotiating a property settlement
- Spousal Maintenance and Child Support
- Making Parenting Arrangements
- Separation costs of divorce
- Mediation costs of divorce
- Personal expenses
Not Sure If You Are Doing Everything Right?
The breakdown of a marriage leading to a divorce is a stressful experience in anyone’s life, and the technicalities involved with learning how to apply for a divorce should be the last thing on one’s mind during such an awful time. JB Solicitors takes the guess work out of the costs of divorce one can expect, and the correct procedures to follow when applying for a divorce. With JB Solicitors, you can trust that your matter is in the hands of experts.
Call JB Solicitors on 1300 287 911 to help put the worry out of the process of applying for a divorce and estimating the costs of divorce.
More Questions About Family Law?
If you have any more questions regarding divorce read some of our other articles: