Firstly we need to understand that annulment is not the same as divorce. Annulment is a finding that the marriage was never valid. In order to get your marriage annulled, you need an order stating that here was never a legal marriage between you and your partner. That order is called a decree of nullity.
So even if you went through an entire marriage ceremony, the court can still order that there is no legal marriage. In Australia the Family Law Act regulates annulment.
A decree of nullity can only be granted on the following grounds:
You apply in the Family Court for a decree of nullity.
You start the process by completing and filing an Initiating Application form. You must file three copies of the completed form. You need to include your marriage certificate and an affidavit stating your grounds for the annulment. You also need to include details of your marriage ceremony.
You need to pay a filing fee. You can apply for a reduction if you can prove financial hardship, or if you hold certain government concessions.
A hearing date will normally be set for a date within 42 days from the application, if the respondent is present in Australia. If not, the date will be set at least 56 days after the application was filed.
You (the applicant) have to serve the papers on the other party (the respondent) to commence with the application. Serving is done in one of the following ways:
You need to include the following documents when serving the application:
You can contest an application for annulment by completing and filing a Response to Initiating Application form. You need to include an affidavit stating the grounds that you are relying on to oppose the application. If you are disputing that the Family Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter, you need to state that in the affidavit as well.
If the court grants an annulment order it is effective immediately. Unlike Divorce, it does not require any parenting or financial orders. You can apply for division of property, but you must do so within twelve months from the annulment. Seek legal advice regarding the division of property, parenting or other financial matters.
Yes, you do. A divorced person cannot marry again in the Catholic Church if the Tribunal of the church did not annul the marriage. The law, however, does not recognize a church annulment as a legal annulment. You still need to legally annul the marriage by applying for a decree of nullity in the court. You have to legally end the marriage before you can remarry legally.
Seek legal advice
If you think that your marriage might not be legally valid, seek legal advice if you want to apply to the Family Court for an annulment.