Apply for a divorce on your own

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How to apply

If your ex-partner doesn’t want a divorce or they won’t agree to apply together or you don’t want to ask them to apply together, you can apply on your own.

  1. Fill in the forms in the application pack:
    One party application for order dissolving a marriage or civil union [PDF, 4.7 MB]
  2. Also include:
    • an original or certified copy of your marriage or civil union certificate (this is not the document you signed on the day of your marriage or civil union). You can get the certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages (external link)
    • a copy of your separation agreement or Separation Order, if you have one, to prove you’ve been living apart for at least 2 years.
  3. File your application. This means your documents need to be delivered personally or posted to your local Family Court by you or your lawyer.
    The fee for applying for a divorce is $211.50 (including GST).

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What happens after you file your application

Giving your ex-partner the divorce documents

The court will process your application and give you a set of documents that need to be given to (served on) your ex-partner by someone else (not you).

Find out more about serving documents

Proving your ex-partner has been given the divorce documents

The person who served your documents will need to fill in an Affidavit of Service to prove that your ex-partner was given the documents.

An easy way to do this is to get the person who served your documents to go to a Family Court. Court staff will help the person fill in the affidavit and then the court staff can witness it and accept it for filing.

Find your local Family Court

If you don’t know where your ex-partner is living

If you’re applying for a divorce and don’t know where your ex-partner is living, you can ask the court if you can change the way the documents are served (this is called substituted service).

Without notice interlocutory application for substituted service - G21 & affidavit [PDF, 665 KB]

You’ll need to give this form to your local Family Court.

Find your local Family Court

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What happens after the divorce documents have been served

Once your ex-partner has been given the divorce documents, they have a set time to decide if they want to ask the Family Court not to approve the divorce. This is called defending the application. This is usually:

  • 21 days after the documents are served in New Zealand
  • 30 days if they are served in Australia
  • 50 days for anywhere else in the world.

If your ex-partner asks the court not to make the Dissolution Order

If your ex-partner asks the court not to approve the divorce, then there will be a defended hearing in front of a Family Court judge. The judge will hear from both of you and decide if there are grounds to make the Dissolution Order.

You will be legally divorced 1 month after the date the Dissolution Order is made. A copy will be sent to you at that stage.

If your ex-partner doesn’t do anything in the set time

If your ex-partner doesn’t do anything in the set time and you don’t want to appear in court, the court will check that the requirements are met and, if they are, make the Dissolution Order. The court will write to you to tell you the order has been made. 1 month after the order is made, it will become final and a copy will be sent to you.

If you want to appear in court, the court will tell you when you need to come to court. At the hearing, a judge will make the Dissolution Order and the divorce will be final on that day. The court will send copies of the Dissolution Order to both of you.

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