This is a question that is regularly asked in family law.

“I married my wife with the understanding that we were going to live together happily ever after, but then she ran off with Julio. Can I get our marriage annulled?”

First of all, you need to appreciate that we are discussing a legal annulment which in Australia, we refer to as ‘nullity’ of marriage rather than ‘annulment’. It may be that if you practice a particular religion you may be entitled to a religious annulment, which is a separate concept.

An application for a decree of nullity of marriage must be based on the ground that the marriage itself never validly existed – it was ‘void’. There are only a few grounds for seeking a decree of nullity.

The Family Court of Australia may declare a marriage null and void where:

  • one of the parties was married to another party at the time of marriage;
  • the parties are in a prohibited relationship, such as being brother and sister;
  • the marriage laws in the place they were married were not adhered to;
  • one of the parties was not of legal age to marry; or
  • proper consent was not given by one of the parties, e.g. they agreed to the marriage under duress.

This means that in the circumstances above, the husband would not be able to apply for a decree of nullity on the grounds that his wife ran off with Julio. His only option would be to apply for a Divorce.

Ann Northcote

Ann Northcote

If you have a question about annulment or nullity of marriage, give us a call and we will be more than happy to help you out!