The Family Court can legally end your marriage or civil union by making a dissolution order, which is the legal term for divorce. Interestingly, despite the term 'divorce' being commonly used there is actually no such thing as a legal divorce here in New Zealand but if you would like your marriage dissolved, talk to our team of "divorce" lawyers who can help.
Criteria for dissolution/divorce
You can ask the court to make an order dissolving your marriage or civil union if you've been living apart for two years or more, and at least one of you is domiciled in New Zealand. Domiciled means that New Zealand is your permanent home, and you can be domiciled in New Zealand even if you are or have been living overseas. If you satisfy both of these criteria, we can help you to make an application to the court for a dissolution order.
Joint or single party application
The most common type of application is a joint application, where you and your former spouse jointly apply to the court for an order dissolving your marriage. The application requires a joint affidavit, which is a sworn document that you both sign (not at the same time) confirming to the court that your marriage has broken down irreconcilably as evidenced by the fact you've been living apart for more than two years. Once a joint application has been received by the court, they'll wait at least one month before making a final dissolution order. No court appearance is necessary.
If your former spouse does not agree to make a joint application, you can make a single party application seeking a dissolution order. Your former spouse will then be served with a copy of the application and they'll have an opportunity to file a defence. There are very limited grounds to defend an application for dissolution and if no defence is filed, a final dissolution order will be made. If your former spouse defends the application, the matter will proceed to a hearing where a judge will determine whether the criteria have been met. We have an experienced team of affordable divorce lawyers that can assist you with every step of the process.
Any application to the court for a dissolution order requires an original marriage certificate. If you don't have one, we can obtain one for you from Births Deaths and Marriages.
We’re here to help
Contact us to see how we can help you with marriage dissolution (confidentially, of course).