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Annulment of Marriage

Issuing a divorce petition is usually the most common way to end a marriage. An annulment can also end a marriage however it is very different to a divorce. You can annul a marriage if it is either:-

Void

A marriage will be considered void if it does not comply with the legal requirements of a valid marriage. If the any of the grounds below are proved, both parties will be treated although they were never married.

  • Parties are related;
  • Either or both parties are under the age of 16;
  • Either or both parties are already married to another person;
  • Gender Recognition Act 2004 s.2(1) and 9(1).

Voidable

A marriage will be considered voidable if any one of the below grounds are proved. Contrastingly, the marriage will be considered valid until the decree of nullity has been made absolute.

  • Not consummated by incapacity or wilful refusal to do so (not applicable for same sex marriage);
  • Marriage has been entered without consent or a party lacks capacity to consent;
  • One party had a venereal disease at the time of marriage;
  • Pregnant by another man at time of marriage.

The grounds for annulment are by no means straightforward and are rare in practice.

Instead of using a divorce petition, a ‘nullity petition’ will be sent to the court. Unlike divorce, the Court will always list the matter for a Court hearing as there is no special procedure in obtaining an annulment. These proceedings will take place in open Court.

An application for an annulment must be submitted within a reasonable time. For grounds which come under ‘voidable’, you must apply within 3 years of the marriage.

We are often approached by clients who wish to divorce within the first year but do not realise you cannot apply for a divorce until you have been married 1 year. Unless any of the grounds stated above apply, we advise clients to contact us once a year of marriage has passed.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Lynn Gooch on 01992 578642 for more information.

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