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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 both agree, but want a court hearing

If you want the order made by a Family Court judge (for example, if one of you is due to remarry and you want an immediate order) and you both agree with the dissolution, you will need to request a hearing in front of a judge. This is called an “undefended hearing”. Both of you will have to go to court and appear in front of the judge as a formality. 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 one partner disagrees with the dissolution, they can defend the application at the Family Court.

At 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

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Family Court

This Family Court provides a range of information relevant to adult relationships, including information on separation, dissolution, relationship property and the relevant court processes.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/family/separation-divorce
Application for a dissolution of marriage (divorce): www.justice.govt.nz/family/separation-divorce/apply-for-a-divorce

Births, Death & Marriages (Department of Internal Affairs)

Births, Death and Marriages have information about marriages and civil unions. You can also apply online for your marriage licence or download the application forms.

Website: www.govt.nz/organisations/births-deaths-and-marriages
Email: bdm@dia.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 22 52 52

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on what happens when your relationship ends.

Information on separation, divorce, care of children and maintenance: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/what-happens-when-your-relationship-breaks-up

Information on dividing up relationship property: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/dividing-up-relationship-property

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

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.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 559 009

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