1.  You need to file an application in the Family Court for your marriage to be “dissolved”.
  2.  One of the parties to the marriage must be living in New Zealand at the time the application is filed.
  3.  You must have been living apart for two years before filing the application.  If, during those two years, you live together for the purpose of attempting reconciliation for no more than three months on one occasion, or a total of three months on a number of different occasions, then an order can still be made for     dissolution.  If you resumed living together for more than three months, then you have to live apart for a further 2 years before an application can be filed.
  4.  The only reason you can give to give the court is that the marriage has “broken down irreconcilably” and the only way to prove this is by living apart for 2 years.
  5.  There are two different ways of applying for dissolution.  The first is a joint application where you both sign the same document.
  6.  The second way is a “single application”, which is used if you are not on speaking terms with your ex-partner, you do not know where they are or you know they will not agree to sign a joint application. You will need to arrange for your application to be served on your ex-partner.  A friend or professional document   server can do this for you.  If you do not know where your ex-partner is living, you will require assistance from a lawyer or from the Family Court to have them served by way of advertisements in newspapers.
  7.  You need to give the Court the original marriage certificate or an original certified true copy (which can be obtained from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages).
  8.  You will also have to pay a filing fee of $175.
  9.  If you have a separation agreement this is useful as evidence of living apart.
  10.  If  you have children together, you will need to provide the Court with details as to arrangements you have made for custody and maintenance.
  11.  You can ask the Court to make the order without you having to go Court. The order will be posted to you in about 6 weeks after you take the documents to the court.
  12.  If you require your marriage to be dissolved immediately, for example if you intend to get married within the following month, you will need to appear in Court along with your ex-husband or wife.


Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.