Understanding the Annulment Process

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Family law covers a number of specialised areas. These areas can range from such life-changing events as separation and divorce, property and financial settlement, and even the protection of assets. One of the specialised areas is annulment, which has its own set of special stipulations within Australia.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment in a marriage occurs when a judge decides that a marriage was not legal. When a judge grants an annulment, he or she essentially voids a marriage. For a marriage to be valid, no type of pressure, force, or trickery can take place. Therefore, you can ask for an annulment upon the occurrence of the one the following events:

  • You are forced or tricked into marrying someone.
  • One of the parties to the marriage is under 18.
  • You do not understand that a prospective ceremony involved getting married.
  • The person you marry is already married.
  • The person you marry is a close relative such as a parent, child, or sibling.

Getting Married Under Duress

According to family lawyers, it is a criminal offence to force a marriage on someone who is against the notion. The penalty for a forced marriage is up to seven years in prison. A forced marriage is also considered to be an offence even when it happens overseas.

How to Apply for an Annulment

In order to apply for an annulment in Australia, you and the other party must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an Australian citizen.
  • Normally live in Australia and regard the country as your permanent residence.
  • Have lived in Australia for at least a year before applying for an annulment.

Serving the Documentation

Applicants must pay a filing fee. You also must arrange for the other party to be served with the application for annulment. Serving means that you are giving your ex-partner the documentation so that they are aware of the court proceedings and other details within the case.

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You cannot serve your former partner by yourself, but you can serve them through another person or via the mail. Family courts in Australia have specific rules about serving court documents as well as specific forms in place to show that another person was actually served.

In turn, the other party may serve an affidavit in reply to your application for annulment. The document should state why they disagree with the application. The response needs to be made within 28 days. If a response is not filed, the court will go ahead and hear the matter without the other party. The judge will then make a decision that is based on the evidence. If the grounds for annulment have been established, an annulment order is granted.

Conditions about Remarrying

If you plan to remarry, you cannot set a marriage date until the finalisation of the annulment. You also do not want to set the marriage date too early after the expected annulment date. If an issue arises and the annulment is postponed, you cannot go ahead with remarriage until the problem is resolved.

Also, getting a marriage annulled will not sort out any concerns associated with the property or children. Any division of property must be facilitated within one year from the annulment date. If you cannot resolve some of the issues and need to refer to the court, the law requires you to file a separate application for annulment within a year of the original annulment date.