You can only dissolve your marriage or civil union by proving to the Court that you and your spouse/partner have been living apart for two years. This is the only way of legally ending a marriage or civil union. There are no other grounds for dissolution, (formerly called divorce) such as adultery or irreconcilable differences, or consent of both parties.

An application for dissolution can be made by you alone or as a joint application filed with your spouse or partner. You do not need to appear in Court to dissolve your marriage. You only have to file an affidavit with your application stating you have been living apart for two years and that you have made arrangements for the care of your children (if any). You must also provide the Court with your original marriage certificate and pay the filing fee.

A Court Registrar will deal with your application and make a decision on whether the order is made. The order will take effect one month after it is made.

If your spouse or partner opposes your application for dissolution your application will have to proceed to a hearing before a Judge.

The situation is slightly more complicated if one of the parties is living abroad. If at least one of you is living in New Zealand, then you can apply for a dissolution order. You are deemed as being domiciled in New Zealand if you were born here and have not made a home in another country with the intention of leaving for an indefinite period. You may also apply if you were born overseas but have made a home in New Zealand with the intention of living here indefinitely.

If both of you are domiciled overseas you will need to apply for a dissolution order from your local Court in that country.

You are able to remarry or enter into a civil union as soon as the dissolution order has taken effect.


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