Family Law

Can I serve an application for divorce if my spouse is in another country?

Published in: December 2016

If the respondent is based in another country, it is important to find out whether Australia has an agreement with the other country in relation to civil proceedings, and such countries are referred to as a Convention country, as set out in reg 21AE of the Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth). The other important detail, besides whether the respondent resides in a Convention country, is also whether the person is a citizen of that country.

If the respondent is in a Convention country, the documents may be sent to the registrar of the Family Court, who then forwards the documents to the respondent in the Convention country. For anyone who is unsure about the requirements of overseas service, they should check the Commonwealth Attorney General’s guide to Serving a legal document across international borders on their website.

For respondents in non-Convention countries, documents may be served by post or by using a process server in that country.

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