A lot of people may wonder what is an annulment and if it is the same as divorce. An annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage to be invalid, or null and void. Essentially, it means that the marriage never legally existed in the first place. While divorce is the dissolution of a legal and valid marriage, annulment is the declaration that the marriage was never legally valid in the first place.
While annulment and divorce both involve the end of a marriage, there are some important differences between the two. One of the main differences is that annulment is only available in certain circumstances. On the other hand, a divorce is available to any married couple who wishes to end their marriage.
Another difference is that annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed. Whereas, divorce simply dissolves the legal marriage contract. This can have important legal implications, particularly in relation to property settlement and inheritance rights. Do you want to know more about what is an annulment? Read this article to find out more.
To be eligible for an annulment in Australia, the marriage must meet specific criteria. The Marriage Act of 1961 sets out the grounds for annulment. Some of the reasons for annulment include:
1. One or both parties were already married (Bigamy)
Bigamy is the act of marrying a person while still being legally married to someone else. It is a form of marriage fraud and is considered a criminal offence in many countries. If one or both parties were already married when the marriage took place, the subsequent marriage is not valid and can be annulled.
2. One or both parties were underage
If one or both parties were underage and did not have their parents’ consent to marry, the marriage can be annulled. According to the NSW Government, a person must be at least 18 years old in order to get married. The same age requirement applies to Victoria and Queensland.
3. One or both parties did not give their full and free consent to the marriage
If one or both parties did not enter the marriage of their free will, the forced marriage may be annulled. Examples of situations where free consent may not be given include coercion, duress, or fraud.
4. The marriage is not consummated
The family court may annul the marriage if one party refuses to consummate it due to physical or mental incapacity, or any other reason.
5. The couple was in a prohibited relationship
This may include an individual who was married with their close relative, ancestor, or descendant.
What Is an Annulment: Common Misconceptions
There are several common misconceptions about annulment that can lead to confusion or misunderstandings. Here are some of the most common misconceptions when discussing the topic “what is an annulment”:
Annulment is easier than a divorce proceeding. In fact, an annulment can be a complex and lengthy legal process, and it is only available in limited circumstances.
Annulment can be used as a way to avoid divorce. While annulment may seem like a way to avoid the stigma of divorce, it is important to remember that it is only available in certain circumstances.
Annulment is always faster than divorce. Annulment is rumoured to be faster than divorce in some cases. However, this will depend on the couple’s circumstances. Hence, it can still be a lengthy and complex process for other couples who seek annulment.
How To Get a Marriage Annulled?
Now that we have discussed what is an annulment, let’s discuss the steps on how to apply for one. To apply for an annulment, you will need to complete a nullity application and file it with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The court will then assess your application to determine if there are sufficient grounds for the annulment. A person may apply for a decree of nullity of marriage if they:
- Are an Australian citizen
- Consider Australia as their permanent home (or if they ordinarily live in Australia); or
- Have waited for at least 12 months before submitting the application
It is important to note that annulment applications must be made within a certain period of time after the marriage. However, this will depend on the specific grounds for annulment. If the court grants the annulment, the marriage will be declared to be invalid from the date of the marriage ceremony.
However, an annulment does not automatically resolve issues such as property settlement or child custody, which will need to be dealt with separately. Property settlement and child custody matters are usually dealt with in divorce matters. Click here if you want to know how the divorce process works.
How Can Family Lawyers Aid in Annulment Procedures?
Can family lawyers help answer family law questions such as “What is an annulment?”. Yes. Family lawyers can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the annulment process. Here are some ways in which a family lawyer can help:
1. Determine eligibility
As mentioned earlier, not all marriages are eligible for annulment. A family lawyer can help you determine if your marriage meets the criteria. They can also advise you on other options, such as divorce or separation if an annulment is not possible.
2. Prepare and file annulment paperwork
These proceedings involve a lot of paperwork, which can be overwhelming for those who are not familiar with the legal process. A family lawyer can help you prepare and file the necessary paperwork, ensuring that everything is completed accurately and on time.
3. Represent you in court
If your annulment case goes to court, a family lawyer can represent you and present your case to the judge. They can also cross-examine witnesses and present evidence on your behalf.
4. Provide legal advice and support
This can be a stressful and emotional time. A family lawyer can provide you with legal advice and emotional support throughout the process, helping to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety. They can also answer more questions from their clients like “What is an annulment?” so legal implications are more clear.
5. Negotiate settlements
If your case involves property division or spousal support, a family lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement with your spouse. They can also assist in drafting a legally binding agreement that ensures your rights and interests are protected.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
Additionally, we can provide guidance and representation reagrding an annulled marriage or invalid marriage. Our team also offers mediation and arbitration services for clients who want out-of-court resolutions for their family law matters.
Contact an experienced family lawyer today for more information.