Voidable marriages (Australia)

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Some marriages were voidable under Australian law prior to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth.).

Difference Between a Void and Voidable Marriage[edit]

A void marriage is regarded for all legal purposes as no marriage at all. On the other hand, a voidable marriage was considered a valid marriage until it was annulled by a judicial decree.[1]


Voidable marriages were recognised until the commencement of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth.)

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959(Cth.) (repealed by the FLA) there were four grounds on which a marriage could be voidable. The part of the legislation considering this was section 21(1); it said:[1]

"A marriage that takes place after the commencement of this Act, not being a marriage that is void, is voidable, where, at the time of the marriage:

(a) either party to the marriage is incapable of consummating the marriage;

(b) either party to the marriage is:

(i) of unsound mind; or (ii) a mental defective;

(c) either party to the marriage is suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form; or

(d) the wife is pregnant by a person other than the husband, and not otherwise."

Current status[edit]

Under the Family Law Act 1975(Cth.) a decree of nullity can now be made only if a marriage is void. This act abolished prospectively voidable marriages.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dickey, A. (2007) Family Law (5th Ed)