Apply for a divorce

'Dissolving a marriage or civil union’ is the legal term for divorce. The Family Court can end your marriage or civil union by making a Dissolution Order.

You can ask the Family Court to legally end your marriage or civil union if:

  • you have been living apart for 2 years or more and
  • at least 1 of you is domiciled in New Zealand. In general, ‘domiciled’ means that New Zealand is your permanent home, even if you are or have been living overseas for a time.

You can be considered to be domiciled in New Zealand when:

  • you were born in New Zealand and have not made a home in another country with the intention of living in that country for an indefinite time. You could still be considered to be domiciled in New Zealand if you are living or working in another country but are not planning to stay there indefinitely
  • you were born overseas but have made a home in New Zealand with the intention of living here for an indefinite time.

The fact that you were married or entered into a civil union in New Zealand is not enough on its own to allow you to apply for a divorce in New Zealand. At least 1 of you needs to be domiciled in New Zealand when the application is made.

If you were married or entered into a civil union overseas, you can apply for a Dissolution Order in New Zealand if 1 of you has been domiciled in New Zealand when the application is made.

If you lived together within the last 2 years, you need to tell the court in your application that you did this to try to get back together. You can try to get back together more than once during the 2 years, as long as the total time you spend together trying to reconcile is not more than 3 months.

Agree on the care of children

If you have children together, the court must be satisfied that arrangements have been made for their day-to-day care and other aspects of their welfare.

Find out more about agreeing on the care of children

Apply for a divorce

You can ask the Family Court for a divorce together, or just 1 of you can ask:

Divide relationship property

If you need the court’s help dividing your relationship property, you need to make a separate application within 12 months of your divorce. The court may extend this time frame.

Find out more about dividing relationship property

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