Annulment and Divorce

Annulment and Divorce – What’s the Difference?

So, your marriage has ended. Depending on your circumstances, you can either apply for a divorce or an annulment of your marriage.


To apply for a divorce, there is one ground – that your marriage has experienced an ‘irretrievable breakdown’. This means that there is no chance that you and your spouse will get back together.

To demonstrate that there has been an irretrievable breakdown, it must be shown that you have separated for at least twelve months prior to applying for the divorce.


Annulment is where someone seeks a decree of nullity. This means that there was never a valid marriage.

To obtain a decree of nullity, you have to prove that either one of these grounds exist:

  • One of the parties was already in a valid marriage at the time of the marriage in question.
  • The parties were too closely related to each other and they were not aware of the is fact at the time of marriage to each other.
  • The requirements of the Marriage Act were not met.
  • There was no valid consent between the two parties to the marriage.
  • One or both parties was not of marriageable age.

If one of these grounds cannot be met, then you would have to remain separated for the required twelve months before applying for a divorce.

Who can apply for a divorce or annulment in Australia?

To apply for a divorce or an annulment in Australia, at least one of the parties must:

  • Be an Australian citizen,
  • Live in Australia and regard it as your permanent home, or
  • Usually live in Australia and have done for at least twelve months prior the application.

How can you apply?

You will need to fill out an application for divorce or an application for nullity and pay the fee. If you can provide a health care card or a pension card you may be entitled to a reduced fee.

Before applying and paying the fee, you should speak with a family lawyer about how to protect your interests with a divorce and your chances of success with an annulment application.

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