“They won’t give me a divorce”

Sometimes I sit with people who are feeling stuck. To be honest, most people I sit with are feeling stuck. But, today I am thinking of the people who are feeling stuck being married to someone they no longer love, and often do not live with. Their relationship is over, long over, sometimes years over, and yet they sit. With their finances still blended, houses in joint names and nothing finalised.

When I ask why they are so stuck, I often hear “he won’t give me a divorce”, or “she won’t give me a divorce”.

You know what, “he” or “she” couldn’t “give you a divorce” if they wanted to.

In Australia, divorce is a relatively straightforward application made to the Court that provides the Court with proof that you were married, that you have separated, that you have been separated for more than 12 months, and you don’t believe you are going to get back together.

Your ex doesn’t “give” you a divorce. The Court does.

And a divorce, is simply the piece of the paperwork puzzle of ‘FamilyLawLand’ that gets you “not married anymore”. It is like the reverse of your wedding ceremony.

It wasn’t your wedding that blended your finances, or gave you the arrangements for who worked and when, and who cared for children and when, and for those of us who changed our name, it wasn’t the wedding itself that changed our name. Each of those things we did separately to the wedding, and at a time of our choosing.

Similarly, a divorce doesn’t separate your finances, sort out the arrangements for your children, or change your name or do anything else other than make you not married anymore.

Before that wedding ceremony, and the saying of the words, and the signing of the papers, you weren’t married. Once you said the things, in front of the right person, and signed the papers, you were married.

It is just the same with the divorce application. You have to “say the things” (declare on the application that you have been separated for more than 12 months) “in front of the right person” (that has to be submitted to the Court on the right forms) and “sign the papers” (you have to sign a copy of your application in front of a qualified witness), in order to apply for a divorce.

So, if you’re ready, you don’t have to wait for “him” or “her” to agree to a divorce.

As with most things in ‘FamilyLawLand’, it is definitely easier if you both agree that it’s time, and can sign a joint application. But you don’t have to wait forever, to “not be married anymore”.

Lessons from LawLand,

Kathryn x

Graphic of the "Getting started with your separation" ebook

Free "Getting Started with Separation" Guide

A guide to help you with the changes and decisions that come with a separation.