Fiji – Signing your Divorce Application in Australia
Applying for divorce in Fiji
If you live in Australia, but you’re applying for divorce in Fiji, whether as the applicant or the respondent to the divorce application, you must sign the application in front of a notary public. The notary public will witness your signature and notarise your divorce application to confirm that you were the person who signed it in their presence.
What does notarise my divorce application mean?
Notarising of your divorce application generally requires you to sign your divorce application in front of a notary public. This means:
- You must visit the notary public with your completed, but not signed, divorce application.
- You must be able to identify yourself, generally by producing your passport or other valid photo identification.
- The notary public will verify your identity (as being one of the parties in the divorce application).
- You must sign your divorce application in front of the notary public.
- The notary public will witness you sign your divorce application.
- The notary public will sign and apply a notary seal to your divorce application.
Can I sign my divorce application in front of someone else other than a notary public?
The divorce application states:
PLEASE DO NOT COMPLETE THIS PART OF THE FORM UNTIL YOU ARE WITH A PERSON WHO IS LEGALLY ABLE TO WITNESS YOUR SIGNATURE – PLEASE DO NOT SIGN UNLESS IT IS AT LEAST 12 MONTHS SINCE THE DATE YOU SEPARATED.
You must complete the following affidavit. You must sign it in the presence of a Justice of the Peace, notary public or lawyer. The person witnessing the affidavit will fill in the place and date.
The witnessing part has three checkboxes for ‘Justice of the Peace/Commissioner for Oaths’, ‘Notary’ and ‘Lawyer’ suggesting that your witness must be either of these authorised persons – however, these instructions were specifically intended for people who were signing the divorce application in Fiji and not in Australia. In Australia, you should sign your divorce application for Fiji in front of a notary public.
What’s the difference between a notary public, a lawyer, a justice of the peace, or a commissioner of oaths?
If you’re not familiar with what a notary public is or what a notary public does, maybe this part will help you. In Australia, a notary public is a senior lawyer with further qualifications that allow that lawyer to perform the role and duties of a notary public. While a notary is qualified to witness or certify documents for use in Australia, a notary public is specifically tasked with notarising documents for use in other countries. If you’re signing the divorce application (or any other legal document) intended to be used in Fiji, then you’ll need a notary public.
While all notaries in Australia must be lawyers, not every lawyer is or must be a notary. A lawyer is a term used to describe anyone who practises law and in Australia this generally covers two specific roles being a ‘solicitor’ and a ‘barrister’. In most cases, barristers only focus on or specialise in court-related legal work, while solicitors generally handle everything (including court-related legal work). You should probably check with your lawyer in Fiji whether signing your divorce application or other legal documents in front of a lawyer in Australia will be acceptable in Fiji. If not, then you’ll probably be safer to sign them in front of a notary public.
In New South Wales, a justice of the peace is a volunteer appointed by the Governor of New South Wales. The primary roles of a justice of the peace are to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. Justices of the peace come from all sections of the community and are available across New South Wales. Generally, a justice of the peace will only be recognised in Australia but not in other countries. If you’re signing the divorce application or other legal documents intended for Fiji or any other country, then you shouldn’t use a justice of the peace – and most justices of the peace know that they should refer you to a notary public.
A commissioner of oaths is someone who is also authorised to take oaths, affirmations and declarations – similar to a justice of the peace. However, the role of a commissioner of oaths does not exist in New South Wales. If you’ve been asked to sign a document in front of a commissioner of oaths, it usually means that the document is from a different state or country and it should really be signed in front of a notary instead. There are commissioners of oaths in Fiji, and if you were signing your divorce application in Fiji, then you could sign them in front of a commissioner of oaths appointed in Fiji. Since you’re in Australia, then you should sign your divorce application in front of a notary public.
Do you have any questions regarding this article?
Whether you're notarising a document for the first time or the hundreth time, the requirements, processes, and terms can be confusing and daunting - or just a pain and a hassle (especially if you need an apostille, or to authenticate or legalise as well). Don't worry! We're here to simplify it, explain it, and help you with what you need to achieve it.
Contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about our notary public services. We've also created a flowchart to help explain notarisation, apostille, authentication and legalisation.
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Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?
We're a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney known for our experience and expertise in notarising documents for other countries, our low-cost fixed fees and service offering, and our availability to help on short notice. With our offices conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area, we help clients from across Sydney and beyond with personal, professional and timely notary public services.
This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique law firm in Parramatta and a leading provider of quality notary public services to satisfied clients across Sydney.
Ern Phang is a director of Phang Legal and a notary public (since 2005). Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the issues faced by his clients in sending documents to other countries.