Dissolution, Annulment and Divorce – what’s the difference?

Dissolution, Annulment and Divorce – what’s the difference? 

Everyone has heard of a divorce, but what does it legally mean? Divorce, dissolution of marriage and annulment often get thrown about and confusion has been created because the American meaning is different from the meaning in Australia.  

We break down the basics below so that you know what you’re actually asking for.  

Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage 

A divorce is defined in the Family Law Act 1975 as “the termination of a marriage”. A divorce order puts a legal end to a legitimate marriage and is the same thing as a dissolution of marriage. For more information on how to get a divorce, see our article about getting a divorce in Tasmania here. 


While a divorce ends a marriage, an Annulment is where the Court finds that there was no marriage in the first place. The marriage is considered null and void from the start and treated as if it never happened.  

In America, fraud or misrepresentation by a partner is grounds for an annulment but the process is different here. In Australia, annulments are only usually given if: 

  • Either of the parties (or both) were already married at the time they “married” the second person;  
  • Either of the parties (or both) were under the age of 18 and did not have the necessary approvals (people between 16-18 can get married with permission from the Court);  
  • Either of the parties (or both) were forced into the marriage under duress.  

Annulments in Tasmania (or Australia) are not given on grounds such as: 

  • Fraud or misrepresentation by one of the parties to the marriage;  
  • The parties never having lived together or consummated the marriage;  
  • Family Violence; or  
  • Other claims of incompatibility or troubles during the marriage.  

For more information on divorce or annulments contact us to discuss your situation.  

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