A Guide to Marriage Annulment | Eligibility and Process

The concept of annulment represented by paper cut outs of people being separated by scissors

Annulment is the cancellation of a marriage when the Court is convinced that the marriage was not legal. In Australia, marriage annulment is sometimes called a “declaration of nullity of marriage” and it ultimately means that the marriage is declared null and void. Before applying for an annulment in Victoria, we encourage you to seek family law advice from specialised solicitors in Melbourne.

How Do I Know if I’m Eligible for Marriage Annulment?

There are limited circumstances in which a marriage will be annulled by the court.

To begin with, either you or the other party must either be an Australian citizen or live in Australia and treat it as your permanent home. The circumstances of your marriage must also meet one of the following grounds for annulment: 

  • One of the parties was forced into the marriage
  • One of the parties did not give full consent (e.g. consent was obtained under duress or fraud)
  • One of the parties was tricked into marrying
  • One of the parties was underage
  • One of the parties was not able to understand what the marriage ceremony meant
  • One of the parties was already married to another person
  • The marriage was between close family members (either blood-related or adoptive)
  • The proper legal requirements for marriage were not met (e.g. the celebrant was not legally qualified)

If your circumstances don’t meet one of the above grounds for marriage annulment then you will have to apply for a standard divorce.

What’s the Process for Marriage Annulment?

The main steps toward annulment are the service of documents to your ex-partner and a court hearing. Your solicitor will be present throughout the process to offer family law advice and guidance and represent you at the hearing.

Service of Documents

If your circumstances meet one of the listed grounds for annulment, you can apply for an annulment through the Family Court. You’ll need to arrange for the appropriate documents – including an application of marriage annulment – to be “served” to your ex-partner. Having documents served by a third party is a way for the court to be certain that the documents have been delivered. Alternatively, they may be sent through certain registered postal methods. Your family solicitors will advise you on the appropriate legal methods of serving the papers.

Affidavit Response

If they disagree with your reasons for annulling the marriage, they may counter-serve an affidavit explaining why. They have 28 days to do this. However, the court will carry on the proceedings whether your ex-partner serves an affidavit or not.

Court Hearing

You will need to attend a hearing, at which your family law solicitor will be present. The judge will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether the grounds for annulment are sufficient. If the court finds the evidence convincing, an annulment order will be granted.

What to Do Next

If you think you’re eligible for a marriage annulment, contact your local solicitor for family law advice and representation. Family solicitors can guide you through the process of annulment step-by-step to reach the best possible outcome for you.        

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