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Family law

Divorce: Getting a “Dissolution” Order

The Dissolution Order: How it gets made and when it takes effect

When you agree and don’t want a court hearing

Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 38, 42; Family Court Rules 2002, rules 360–362

The court registrar can make a Dissolution Order if an application for dissolution is made:

  • by both of you jointly and you agree to the order being made without you being present, or
  • by one of you, but the other person agrees to the order being made without them being present or does not defend the application.

A Dissolution Order made by a registrar does not become final until one month after the order is made. You will be sent a copy of the Dissolution Order as soon as it becomes final.

When you parties agree but do want a court hearing

If you want an order immediately (for instance, if one of you is due to remarry), or if for any other reason you want the order made by a Family Court Judge, then you will need to request an undefended hearing in front of a judge. Both of you will have to go to court and appear in front of the judge as a formality only. At the hearing, the judge can make a Dissolution Order that takes effect immediately.

When one of you disagrees and there is a defended court hearing

If, after a defended hearing, a judge decides that the order should be made, then the order will come into effect one month after the hearing date (unless the judge’s decision is appealed).

Next Section | Getting married again

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Relationships and break-ups

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Community Law


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Births, Death & Marriages (Department of Internal Affairs)


This website has information about marriages and civil unions. On this site you can also apply online for a marriage licence or download the application forms.

Family Court


This Family Court webpage provides a range of information relevant to adult relationships, including information on separation, dissolution, relationship property and the court processes that apply in those areas. You can access pamphlets online, as well as Family Court forms such as Dissolution of Marriage Application packs.

Family Court fee waiver forms

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New Zealand Law Society



  • Living together
  • Dividing up relationship property
  • What happens to your children when you part?
  • What happens when your relationship breaks up?

You can access pamphlets online or order hard copies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Phone: (04) 472 7837

Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Work and Income


Relationships often have a significant impact on personal finances. For information on how your changing relationship status might affect what benefits you are entitled to, contact Work and Income.

Phone: 0800 559 009

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