What is a declaration of nullity?

A declaration of nullity is a finding that there was no legal marriage between the parties, even though a marriage ceremony may have taken place. The Family Court of Australia may declare a marriage invalid on the following grounds:

  1. one or both of the parties were already married at the time  
  2. one or both of the parties were under-age and did not have the necessary approvals, or
  3. one or both of the parties were forced into the marriage under duress.

The Court will NOT declare a marriage invalid on the following grounds:

  1. Non-consummation of the marriage
  2. Never having lived together
  3. Family violence or
  4. Other incompatibility situations.

For more information see the fact sheet Applying for a decree of nullity.

See Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) of the Family Law Rules 2004 for more information on what grounds a party may apply for a decree of nullity.

Which courts can declare a marriage invalid?

Under the Family Law Act 1975, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia have the power to declare a marriage invalid.

How do I apply for nullity?

To apply for nullity, you must file an Initiating Application. You will also need to prepare an affidavit stating:

  1. the facts relied on to have the marriage annulled, and
  2. details of the type of marriage ceremony performed.

For more information see the fact sheet Applying for a decree of nullity.

You will also need to pay the filing fee. Fees are set by regulation. 

The current fees are available on the fees page.

The current fees are available on the fees page.

In some cases, for example, if you hold certain government concession cards or you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for a reduced fee. See the Guidelines for reduced fee – divorce and decree of nullity application.

In some cases, for example, if you hold certain government concession cards or you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for a reduced fee. See the Guidelines for reduced fee – divorce and decree of nullity application.

More information can be found on the fees page of this website, including an explanation of different payment methods.

More information can be found on the fees page of this website, including an explanation of different payment methods.

eFiling – Initiating Applications can be electronically filed through the Commonwealth Courts Portal (www.comcourts.gov.au). For more information see the Commonwealth Courts Portal User Guide.