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How to annul a marriage?

It’s not unusual for clients to come to us to ask how to annul a marriage or what is an annulment? (rather than filing for divorce). For some, a divorce is not desired due to religious reasons, for others, it may be because they have not yet been married for a year and are unable to get a divorce until this point.

Whatever the reason for wanting to know how to annul a marriage or seeking an annulment, there are only specific ‘grounds’ under which a marriage can be annulled. In this insight, we’ll take a closer look at the grounds for annulment and the process involved in getting a marriage annulled.

 

What does it mean to annul a marriage? 

By saying you wish to annul a marriage you are saying that, from the beginning, the marriage was not legally valid. You are effectively ‘cancelling’ the marriage.

In order to get an annulment, you will need to show either that your marriage was not legally valid (‘void’) or that your marriage is ‘defective’ (‘voidable’).

 

Is my marriage ‘void’?

Marriage’s may be ‘void’ or not legally valid if:

  • either you or your spouse were already married or in a civil partnership when you were married
  • either you or your spouse were under the age of 16 when you were married
  • you and your spouse are close relations

If your marriage turns out to be ‘void’, it will be as if your marriage never took place (in a legal sense). If this applies to you, it may be worth obtaining legal documents to prove that this is the case, as they may be necessary if you want to re-marry, for example.

 

how to annul a marriage

 

Is my marriage ‘voidable’?

Marriages can be defective and therefore annulled for various reasons, including:

  • if you and your spouse did not consummate the marriage (you have not had sex with each other since you were married) – NB this ground is not available for same sex couples
  • at the time of the wedding, one of you had a sexually transmitted disease
  • one (or both) of you didn’t properly consent to your marriage e.g. you were drunk
  • the female spouse was pregnant with another man’s child (not her spouse’s child) when the wedding took place

 

How can I apply annul a marriage?

In order to have a marriage annulled, it is necessary to complete a nullity petition and send two copies of this to a divorce court. This costs £550, at the time of writing this insight.

A solicitor can help you to complete your nullity petition, to ensure that there are no mistakes which could unnecessarily delay the process.

After the forms have been submitted, the courts will then make contact with your spouse. Your spouse then has 8 days to respond.

If they are happy for the annulment to go ahead, a decree nisi can then be applied for, followed by a decree absolute (6 weeks after your receive the decree nisi), also known as a decree of nullity.

After this, your marriage will be annulled.

If the other spouse is not happy for the annulment to go ahead, it may be necessary to go to court.

 

Summary:  What is an annulment?

As family solicitors, we’re often asked whether an annulment of a marriage is possible, rather than a divorce.

In this article, we’ll discuss what an annulment is, when an annulment of a marriage is possible (also known as the grounds for annulment) and the process involved in order to get a marriage annulled.

 

Why an annulment?

Sometimes, an annulment is requested because of religious reasons.

Alternatively, those who are not able to get a divorce because they have not been married a year, may want an annulment of their marriage instead.

However, an annulment is only possible in certain circumstances. We will discuss these in detail below.

 

What is an annulment?

Annulling a marriage is effectively ‘cancelling’ a marriage. Legally, at least, it will be as if it never took place.

In order to get an annulment, you will have to show either:

• your marriage is not legally valid (‘void’) or
• your marriage is legally valid but is ‘voidable’

 

Annulment grounds one: a ‘void’ marriage

Your marriage may not be legally valid (‘void’) – if:

• either you or your spouse were under the age of 16 when the marriage took place
• either you or your spouse were already married or in a civil partnership when you got married
• you and your spouse are close relations

If your marriage is not legally valid, the law sees it as never having happened in the first place. Your marriage will be void.

If you believe that your marriage is not legally valid and, as such, annulment of your marriage is possible, you may want to apply for the paperwork to prove it. This is known as a ‘decree of nullity’.

 

Annulment grounds two: a ‘voidable’ marriage

Annulment can also take place if a marriage is ‘voidable’.

Annulment under this category can happen for a number of reasons, including:

• if, when you married, one of you had a sexually transmitted disease
• if you and your spouse did not consummate the marriage (you have not had sex with each other since you were married) – this is not available for same-sex couples
• if one (or both) of you didn’t properly consent to your marriage e.g. you were drunk
• if the female spouse was pregnant with another man’s child when the wedding took place
• if one spouse is transitioning to a different gender

If your marriage is ‘voidable’, you will need to apply to the courts for an annulment of your marriage. Your marriage will still exist in the eyes of the law until you do this.

 

How to apply for an annulment of a marriage

In order to apply for an annulment, you will need to complete a ‘nullity petition’ and send two copies to your nearest divorce court.

At the time of writing, this costs £550.

A family solicitor can help you to complete your nullity petition, to ensure that there are no mistakes which could delay the annulment.

 

How can our expert divorce solicitors help advice you how to annul a marriage?

Our expert divorce solicitors can help you on how to annul a marriage and advise on a range of legal issues:

 

Contact our expert divorce solicitors for divorce advice

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

 

Our expert divorce solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in our:

Leeds Office: Princes Exchange, Princes Square, Leeds, LS1 4BY

Sheffield Office: Pinfold Street, The Balance, Sheffield, S1 2GU

Manchester Office: King Street, Manchester, M2 4PD

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

London Office: 01 Nothumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW

Please contact us for more details.

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23rd August 2018

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