Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia can declare a marriage invalid. This is formally referred to as a decree of nullity. Commonly, people would refer to a marriage annulment.
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.
A Divorce Order dissolves a legally recognisable marriage.
An order of Decree of Nullity voids a legally recognisable marriage.
The effect of a Decree of Nullity is that the marriage never existed – the order has a retrospective effect.
To successfully obtain an order for a Decree of Nullity, you must demonstrate one of the following grounds exists:
Contrary to popular opinion, the Court will not declare a marriage invalid for any of the following reasons:
If a party to a marriage cannot establish grounds to obtain an order for a decree of nullity, they will need to obtain an order for divorce to legally end the marriage.
To obtain a Decree of Nullity, 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.
Once you obtain an order for a Decree of Nullity (or a Divorce Order), you should seek legal advice from an experienced family lawyer regarding:
At Meillon & Bright Legal, our team of lawyers have experience across all aspects of family law and can assist you with any queries you have in relation to any family law matter.
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The information contained in this article is of general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact Meillon & Bright Family Lawyers.