The short answer is yes. The Family Law Act provides that an Application for Divorce can be filed jointly by a husband and wife. The ground for divorce is the same as if one party to the marriage applies – the irreconcilable breakdown of the marriage, proven by the parties living separately and apart for at least 12 months immediately before the filing of the application. As with one party applications, all or part of that 12 month period can be under the same roof, provided the parties are living separate lives – for example, sleeping in different rooms, not socialising together.
If a Joint Application for Divorce is made, only one filing fee is paid. Couple usually share that cost. At present, the filing fee is $940, or $310 if both parties are Centrelink card holders. If only one party has a Centrelink card, the full $940 is payable. The fees are usually increased in July each year.
One of the advantages of making a Joint Application is that you don’t have to serve the document on the other party – the Court accepts that they know about it, because it’s a joint application.
Another advantage is that neither of you have to go to Court/Zoom/telephone for the Divorce hearing, even if you have children.
As with a single person Divorce application, you must qualify. As well as the 12 month separation requirement, both of you have to be either Australian citizens, or have lived in Australia for the previous 12 months or Australia is your home and you intend to live here indefinitely. And of course, you will have to file a copy (not the original) of your Marriage Certificate (plus a translation into English if it’s in a foreign language) with your application. One more thing – as with single person applications, if you have been married for less than 2 years when you file your application, both of you have to get a certificate from a counsellor, to say that you attended them and discussed reconciling.
So, it’s fairly straightforward. But a word of warning – if you and your partner want a lawyer to prepare your Joint Application for Divorce, they will do that, but neither of you can use that lawyer if issues later arise about children and/or property. That’s because there’s a conflict of interest – one lawyer isn’t allowed to act for both parties.