Step-by-Step Guide

divorcing

Applying for a divorce in New Zealand

Known as a Dissolution of Marriage Order

Applying for a divorce in New Zealand is relatively simple, the process has been designed so that you can do it yourself. However, it is important to note there is a distinct difference between getting a divorce (known as a dissolution of marriage order), and dividing up your relationship property or agreeing to custody arrangements of children. For these aspects of your separation you may need a separation agreement or a relationship property agreement, and it is here that you may require the advice of an experienced lawyer.

In New Zealand you need to ask the family court to legally end your marriage. There are some conditions that need to be met before you can apply, and the process will vary slightly depending on whether you are applying for a divorce together with your ex-partner, or on your own.

We have outlined the steps for applying for a dissolution of marriage in New Zealand, with relevant links that may be of use…

1

Locate a copy of your marriage certificate

You need to provide the court with an original or certified copy of your marriage or civil union. If your marriage or civil union certificate is not in English, you will need to file a certified English translation along with it.

2

Check you are eligible

  1. You must have been separated for 2 years or more AND….
  2. One of you must be living indefinitely in NZ. The person making the application does not have to be the one who is living in New Zealand.

If New Zealand is not the permanent home of either of you, you will need to follow the dissolution process for the country where you now live. The country you live in might have their own residency rules, and you may need a lawyer, depending on the local rules. For example, in Australia you can apply for a divorce through the Australian Family Court after being separated for 1 year, not 2 as in New Zealand. The process is very similar to that of New Zealand.

If you get divorced overseas it still applies if you return to New Zealand or move to another country to live.

3

Agree on the care of children under 16

If you have children together, the court must be satisfied that arrangements have been made for their day-to-day care, maintenance, and other aspects of their welfare, or that there is a good reason why no arrangements have been made.

Find out more, agreeing on the care of children>

The granting of a Dissolution Order does not make these arrangements into a Court Order or determine what the parenting arrangements will be in the future. If you want an Order about the care arrangements for your children, you will need to make a separate application to the court.

4

Decide what type of application to make

To get a divorce you need to apply to the family court. You can do this together with your ex-partner, or on your own. As long as you meet the requirements to apply as outlined in Step 2, there is very little that can be done to oppose a dissolution of marriage application.

One Party Application

If your ex-partner does not want a divorce, or you don’t want to ask them to apply together with you, you can apply on your own.  In this instance you need to ask the Family Court to make a decision (known as APPLYING for an Order).

The Family Court then issues documents that you need to ensure are SERVED PERSONALLY on your ex-partner.

Joint Application

Applying together is a relatively simple and quick process. In this case both you and your partner can ASK the Court for a Dissolution of Marriage Order together. ​

5

Apply to the family court

Fill in the forms in the application pack and file your application by delivering personally or posting to the Family Court by you or your lawyer.

You application will include
- an original or certified copy of your marriage or civil union certificate.
- 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.

One Party Application

Although applying on your own can take longer than a joint application, it means you can do it independently of your ex-partner.

KEEPING YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS PRIVATE: A copy of your application needs to be delivered to your ex-partner. If you do not want your ex-partner to know where you live, then keep this information "CONFIDENTIAL" on your application form.

Joint Application

Applying together is a relatively simple and quick process. In this case both you and your partner can ASK the Court for a Dissolution of Marriage Order together. ​

6

Notifying your ex-partner of the application

This step is only applicable if you are making a ONE PARTY APPLICATION for a dissolution of marriage.

One Party Application

Once your application is processed the dissolutions team will send you a set of documents (SERVICE PACK) that you need to arrange to have served on your ex-partner.

SERVING THE DOCUMENTS ON YOR EX-PARTNER
Unless otherwise instructed you need to arrange personal service – this is where someone physically hands the documents directly into the hands of your ex-partner. You cannot post the documents or serve the documents yourself. If the other party refuses to take the documents, they can be put down in front of them instead.

You can ask a friend, family member, or engage a professional process server to serve these for you. Whoever serves the documents needs to complete an affidavit of service confirming how the service took place, and if there were any issues with personal service. The affidavit of service needs to be signed and witnessed before a court registrar, JP, or solicitor and then returned to the applicant, who then needs to complete an affidavit of identification. Then both documents need to be sent back to the Family Court.

Joint Application

If you have made a Joint Application you can miss out this step.

7

Advise the court your documents have been served

This step is only applicable if you are making a ONE PARTY APPLICATION for a dissolution of marriage.

One Party Application

The person who served the documents needs to complete a document called an Affidavit of Service. The affidavit of service includes details about when and where the documents were served, and how it is known that the correct person was served. The affidavit of service template will be provided to you by the court.

The applicant needs to return to the court the affidavit of service, and an affidavit of identification, signed, confirming the details in the affidavit of service are correct.

Joint Application

If you have made a Joint Application you can miss out this step.

8

YOUR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE IS FINALISED

The length of time it takes for a dissolution of marriage order to be made and the marriage finalised will depending on whether you applied together with your ex-partner or on your own.

One Party Application

FIRST, once the documents have been served, your ex-partner will have a set time to decide if they want to defend the application.

  1. 21 days after service of the documents if they are in New Zealand.
  2. 30 days after service of the documents if they are in Australia.
  3. 50 days after service of the documents in another part of the world.

SECOND, once the time indicated above has passed

  1. NOT APPEARING IN COURT (1 month)
    A registrar will check your forms and make the dissolution order. Your divorce will take effect 1 month after the order is made.
  2. APPEARING IN COURT (same day)
    If you appear in court together and the judge makes the dissolution order, your divorce will be official on the day. It is important to note that if the court is busy it may take time to get a court date.

Joint Application

  1. NOT APPEARING IN COURT (1 month)
    A registrar will check your forms and make the dissolution order. Your divorce will take effect 1 month after the order is made.
  2. APPEARING IN COURT (same day)
    If you appear in court together and the judge makes the dissolution order, your divorce will be official on the day. It is important to note that if the court is busy it may take time to get a court date.

Applying for a one party divorce application?

Let us help. Why?...

  • AVOID AWKWARD CONFRONTATIONS

    As an independent party we are not personally involved in what can often be an emotional time. You may find asking a family member or friend awkward for one, or both of the parties.

  • WE KNOW COURT REQUIREMENTS

    Our team of professional process servers are aware of court rules around dissolution of marriage. We know what paperwork is required to confirm service was effected.

  • IMPARTIAL TO THE PROCEEDINGS

    Process servers are not party to the proceedings and have no vested interest in the outcome. We often find a respondent is more comfortable being served by an unbiased, third party.

Talk to us today about serving your dissolution documents.

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A Shinkarenko

Barrister

"I thought I would send you a quick follow up to thank you for an excellent service! I will most definitely use your services again in the future. I have received a prompt notification once the service was completed and everything appears to be in order."

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Carolyn

Auckland Furniture Store

"Thank you for your help. You guys were wonderful." 

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S Hiku

Legal Executive

"We have used Docuserve as our process servers for many years and have always found their service to be very professional and efficient.  We are provided regular updates as to how service is proceeding and once it has been completed.  Karl and Kathryn are a great team to deal with."

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M Allan

Barrister

"Thanks for providing such great service Kathryn, I’ll definitely be instructing you in the future."

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L Gallagher 

Private Service, Dissolution of Marriage

"Wow can’t believe how easy and quick this was. Thank you so much Kathryn for all of your help and insanely efficient service we truly appreciate how easy and friendly you were to deal with."

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A Sirimanne

Senior Associate, Solicitor

"Many thanks for being so accommodating with the quick turnaround."

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B Kaino

Private Service, Dissolution of Marriage

"Thank you Docuserve. Appreciate all your help and the great service."

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L Ponniah

Solicitor

"I must say that it was a pleasure dealing with Karl. He was easy to communicate with, he understood and executed the instructions and achieved the desired outcome. Please pass on my compliments."

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M Facoory

Private Service, Dissolution of Marriage

"Hi Docuserve. Thank you very much for your services! I look forward to using your services again."

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P Cobcroft

Barrister

"Thank you for your efficient and professional service!"

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J Delaney

Barrister

"That was a wonderful service, thank you Kathryn."

 

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E Barley

Solicitor

"Thanks for the great service. Many thanks to you and your team, and to Karl for being my legs yesterday afternoon."

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