In some cases, it may be possible to apply for an annulment of a marriage by presenting a nullity petition rather than a divorce petition. Annulment is a declaration by the Court that a marriage was not legally valid or had become invalid.
Unlike a divorce petition, a nullity petition can be presented within the first year of marriage. An application will need to be made within a reasonable period of time (usually within three years)
A marriage may be annulled if the marriage is void or voidable.
- A void marriage is one that is regarded by the court as never having taken place; it is completely invalid from the outset.
- A voidable marriage is regarded as a valid marriage subsisting until a decree annulling it has been pronounced.
To establish that a marriage is void, one of the following grounds must be proved:-
- The parties are within prohibited degrees of relationship.
- One of the parties to the marriage was under the age of 16 at the time of marriage.
- The parties have intermarried in disregard of certain requirements as to the formation of marriage.
- At the time of the marriage, one of the parties was already lawfully married or a civil partner.
- In the case of a polygamous marriage entered into outside England and Wales, one party was at the time of the marriage domiciled in England and Wales.
The grounds upon which a marriage can be voidable are:-
- The marriage was not consummated owing the incapacity of one of the parties to consummate it (this does not apply to marriages of same sex couples).
- The marriage was not consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the other party to consummate it (again, this will not apply to the marriages of same sex couples).
- Either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether as a result of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise.
- At the time of the marriage, either party, though capable of giving a valid consent, was suffering from a mental disorder (within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983) of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfitted for marriage.
- At the time of the marriage the other party was suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form.
- At the time of the marriage the other party was pregnant by some person other than the party applying (husband).
- An interim gender recognition certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 has, after the time of the marriage, been issued to either party to the marriage.
- The other party is a person whose gender at the time of the marriage has become the acquired gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
(Some of the grounds in applying for an annulment of a civil partnership differ).
Contact our nullity/annulment solicitors in Ruislip, Middlesex
The grounds for obtaining an annulment are not always straight forward. You should discuss the particular circumstances of your case with a Family Lawyer who specialises in this area of law, by calling 020 8866 6464 or complete our online enquiry form.