How Does Marriage Annulment Work In Australia?

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Whilst a divorce ends a legally valid marriage, a marriage annulment in Australia treats a marriage as if it didn’t happen. But ‘annulment’ is a term used in America, meaning to declare a marriage null and void. So how does marriage annulment work in Australia?In Australia, annulments are governed by the Family Law Act. A person must apply for a “decree of nullity of marriage” on the grounds that the marriage is void.

What Is A Marriage Annulment in Australia?

An annulment means that a marriage is declared null and void. It’s different from a divorce.

It is not popular to seek a marriage annulment in Australia, but they can sometimes be granted to declare a marriage is void, in circumstances such as:

• One or both parties were already married
• If one or both people are under 17 and don’t have special court approval, or someone is not able to provide informed consent
• It’s a prohibited relationship (such as siblings marrying, for example)
• The legal requirements were not met at the time of the marriage (for example, the celebrant wasn’t qualified)
• If either party was forced into the marriage.

This kind of legal marriage annulment in Australia shouldn’t be confused with a marriage annulment in Australia that is sometimes granted by a religious faith for the spiritual side of the marriage.

What Is A Decree Of Nullity?

A Decree of Nullity often referred to as an annulment of marriage, is an order from the Court that has the effect of stating there was no legal marriage between the parties.

To obtain it, a party must make an application to the Court with an affidavit setting out the facts relied upon to have the marriage annulled. You must also provide the Court with a copy of the marriage certificate.

A copy of the application and affidavit must be served on the other party in accordance with the Family Law Rules. Once the respondent has been served with a copy of your application, they may file a response to the application.

Following service of the application on the other party, and the application has been filed correctly with the Court, the Court will schedule a hearing date for your application.

If your application is successful and the Court grants an order for a Decree of Nullity, the order has immediate effect.

Can You Remarry?

You cannot remarry until your annulment order becomes final.

Be careful not to set your wedding date too close to the expected date of your annulment order becoming final. If there is a delay, you will not be able to go ahead with your wedding until the problem is sorted out and the annulment is granted.

When Should You Apply For A  Marriage Annulment in Australia?

Every situation is different, and choosing between divorce, annulment or legal separation can get confusing. Your personal circumstances will dictate some decisions as the grounds for annulment are limited and separation or divorce may be the only options available.

In the case of annulment, it’s best to apply as soon as possible to avoid legal complications. JCL Legal family law experts are on hand to assist with your inquiries and can provide advice that will save you time and money.

Commencing an application for annulment is quite simple, with the legal documents served on the respondent involved in the application. It’s not unusual at this point for the respondent to contest or dispute allegations related to the application.


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