Dissolving a Marriage - Getting a Divorce

22 June 2021

Dissolving a marriage – getting a divorce

Can I dissolve my marriage?

The only way one can divorce (“dissolve”) a marriage in New Zealand is by way of irreconcilable breakdown of the marriage, or civil union.  In order to prove this, you must satisfy the court that you have been separated, living apart, for at least 2 years. 

How do we prove we have been living apart?

The court will require evidence of you having lived apart for at least 2 years.  Examples of this would be a separation agreement, or an affidavit from either or both of you stating that you have lived apart for that time, or independent evidence, like an affidavit from a third party that know you both.

How do we apply?

Either both parties can apply together, or one party can apply on their own.  The forms are available at the local Family Court or online.  Applying for a dissolution requires an application to be completed and filed at the court along with an application fee. 

Single applications

A single application can be filed with just one party making the application.  This may be because only one party agrees to the application, or because you have lost contact. 

Documents will be required to be attached to your affidavit; the original marriage certificate and any separation agreement that was signed.

Once the documents are filed, you must also file a copy of the documents to the other party.  Someone other than the applicant must personally serve the documents.  If you require a third person you can employ the services of bailiff or other third party.  In order to prove the application has been served, the person serving must complete an affidavit of service, the form is available from the Family Court. 

What if I don’t know where the other person is?

If you genuinely do not know the whereabouts of the other party then the court will require an Application to Dispense with Service to be completed.  The court will then consider how to proceed. 

What if the other person does not agree?

If the other person does not agree with the application to dissolve then they must tell the court they want to appear.  They will be given a timeframe to do this.  The court will determine this process. 

The process

Once the applications have been completed and are lodged in the court the court will review the documents.  For matters where both parties have applied jointly and agree to the order being made, or one party applies and the other party is served but does not respond then the court have the discretion to make the order.  Once processed, there will be a one month period from when the order is made for when the dissolution takes effect.

Are you applying for divorce?

If you are separated and want to apply for divorce, one of our friendly team can help you.  We understand the emotional complexities that dissolution can have on a person and our friendly team will guide you through the process.  If you want to know more about dissolution of marriage, or begin the process, please contact one of our team now.

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