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What is a sole application for divorce?

A sole application is where one party applies for the divorce without requiring the involvement of the other.  One party (“The Applicant”) will draft and sign the divorce application before filing it with the court. The Court will return the Application after it has been sealed and a court date allocated.  This sealed copy of the application along with a few other documents must then be served upon the other party.  Sometimes this is done simply via solicitors however if the other party is not being co-operative a process server may be necessary to ensure that you can prove the Application was served. 


No. If your spouse does not agree to the application for divorce, won’t sign it, or you would simply like to do it by yourself you can file a sole application for divorce.   

You can instruct a family lawyer to do this on your behalf or you can follow the DIY section on the Family Court Website. You will need to pay the entire filing fee yourself which is quite large. See Family and Federal Circuit Court Fees. 

You/we will need to arrange to have the application (and a number of other prescribed documents) personally served on your spouse.  This can be done in one of the following ways: 

  1. If your spouse has a solicitor then they can instruct their solicitor to accept service which can then be done electronically or by post. Their solicitor will then sign and return the ‘Acknowledgement of Service’.   
  2. If they do not have a solicitor you can post it to them and ask them to sign the ‘Acknowledgement’.   
  3. If they do not sign the acknowledgement, or you suspect that they will not co-operate, you/we will need to hire a process server to personally serve the documents on your spouse.  The fee for this starts at around $150 and increases depending on whether difficulties are encountered and will include the ‘Affidavit of Personal Service’. 

Once the sole application for divorce has been prepared and signed, it is then filed with the Court and a date will be set for the hearing. Where a sole application for divorce is made, the court needs to be provided with evidence that your spouse has received sufficient notice of your application. This evidence is either the signing of an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ or an ‘Affidavit of Personal Service’. You will need to file one of these two documents with the court prior to the court date. 

You will not need to attend the Court hearing unless: 

  1. your spouse files a response objecting to the Divorce being granted (this is very rare); or 
  2. there is an objection to the facts contained in the Application; or 
  3. there are children under 18.   

Your spouse will not need to attend court unless they have filed a Response to your Application.

Provided the Registrar is satisfied that the conditions for a divorce has been met, then the Divorce Order will be granted and the divorce will become final 28 days after the court date. 

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