DIVORCE

I’ve been having problems with my husband and we both agreed to separate. But I want a divorce because I am still young and want to establish a relationship with another man. We have two children ages 9 and 12 but I don’t trust him with the children.

In Australia divorce and family law matters are regulated by Federal law. First, the only ground for divorce in Australia is if the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’ – meaning that you and your husband are absolutely certain you will not be getting back together again. You have to be separated for at least twelve months. After confirmation of the divorce by the Family Court you can re-marry. If you are a Catholic, you may be able to apply for a ‘marriage annulment’ and obtain approval to re-marry.

As to the children, the law is that the biological father has a legal right to have ‘reasonable’ access to the children. The only times the father would not be allowed access to the children would be in the cases of proven cruelty, excessive alcohol or drug, pedophilia or total incompetence or something else of a substantial nature. But this would have to be a court order. Otherwise, the husband has a right to have independent access, taking the children away usually twice a week depending on the agreed access times.

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