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When a marriage is coming to an end, there are usually two main ways to legally leave the relationship: divorce and annulment.
Both divorce and annulment allow couples to legally end a marriage, and whilst both processes share several similarities, there are some significant differences between the two.
Divorce allows couples to legally end a marriage, whilst annulment declares the marriage void or null – as though it never happened. Whether the court grants a divorce or an annulment will usually depend on your and your partner’s circumstances.
Understanding whether you should apply for a divorce or an annulment can be confusing, especially during a time that is already emotionally challenging. At Austin Kemp, our experienced divorce lawyers help guide you through the process with expert legal advice.
Deciding to end a marriage by beginning divorce proceedings is often a painful and difficult time. During this time, emotions can run high. This is why it is important to seek specialist independent legal advice as soon as possible.
In England and Wales there is no such thing as a ‘no blame’ divorce. You must establish that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. To show that this irretrievable breakdown has occurred (and for you to be granted your divorce) you have to prove that one of three things has happened – either unreasonable behaviour, adultery, or separation for at least two years.
If your ex doesn’t consent to a separation divorce, you might have to wait five years before obtaining the divorce.
You may need to present the court with evidence that one of these has happened in order to prove that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage has occurred. Without evidence in one of these categories, you will not be able to divorce.
We have a team of specialist solicitors who can guide you through what is often a difficult process. Whether you are the respondent or the petitioner, or you are still considering your options, we will discuss your divorce with you and advise you how to proceed. If your case has an international element, we will help and advise you through the processes of the international courts.
We are also able to negotiate an agreement with your spouse’s solicitors in advance of the documentation going to court to ensure that the grounds of divorce are agreed and to avoid any lengthy and potentially expensive dispute.
We can also advise on and handle any injunctions or financial freezing orders to prevent money or assets being hidden. These can even be done before your spouse is notified of the divorce proceedings.
An annulment is issued by the court to declare a marriage as void, treating the marriage as though it never existed. An annulment can sometimes be used as an alternative to a divorce; this is generally used by couples who have a religious or moral issue with divorce.
A marriage can be either voidable or void if certain legal requirements are not met. A voidable marriage will be seen in law as a valid marriage up until the date of the annulment, whereas a void marriage is considered to have never been legally valid at all.
Whether a marriage is void or voidable depends on a number of legally recognised factors. A marriage is voidable if certain conditions are met, these can include:
A void marriage is considered as never being legally valid. A marriage is considered void if:
Even if you think your marriage is void then it is still strongly recommended that you obtain legal advice as you may need paperwork to prove it in the future. At Austin Kemp, our divorce lawyers provide expert legal advice to guide you through the annulment process.
When this marriage is annulled it will, in law, be seen as if it never happened. If the marriage is voidable through annulment, then financial claims will still be allowed through a nullity petition. If it is deemed to be void (to never have existed), then only financial claims for the benefit of the children will be allowed. This can have a considerable impact on your assets, especially if you are a high net worth individual.
If it can be proven that either party knew they could end their marriage through an annulment but led their partner to believe that they wouldn’t do so, then that party will be stopped from applying for nullity.
Austin Kemp provide the best legal advice, with a dedicated team of divorce solicitors experienced in dealing with annulments and divorces between individuals with large amounts of wealth and assets.
Whether you have been served with divorce papers, are intending to serve your partner with divorce papers, or are unsure of where a divorce would leave you financially, then our experienced team of solicitors are here to help and advise you through what is a notoriously emotional and difficult process.
Although it is seen as one of the most stressful things anyone can do, divorce is actually mainly paperwork. Once the respondent has been served with the petition (this can be done by process servers if they refuse) then the decree nisi can be applied for. If the grounds of the divorce petition are accepted the decree nisi will then be pronounced in court.
The court can then make an order in relation to finances and, once this is agreed, the decree absolute will be applied for. It is when the decree absolute is finalised that both parties are officially divorced. The decree absolute has to be applied for at least 6 weeks and 1 day after the decree nisi is pronounced, but this can take much longer if there is a complex financial settlement, for example if you are a high net worth individual with pension funds and investments spread out across the world.
We have a team of experienced solicitors able to advise you on the legality of your marriage. We specialise in high net worth individuals and can discuss with you the impact of your void or voidable marriage on any pension funds and investments you may have, whether they be in England and Wales or abroad. It is very important, just as with divorce, to consider the impact of an annulment of your marriage on your finances and make sure you obtain the right legal advice with regards to this.
As with the end of any relationship, if a marriage is either void or voidable then this can be an extremely fraught and difficult time. We have expertise in dealing with this situation and can advise you not only on the best way to negotiate with your partner, but also on how this could impact your wealth and assets.
Unlike divorce, where you need to wait a year, an annulment of a marriage can take place at any time after the wedding. When obtaining an annulment, a court hearing in open court will be necessary. Just like divorce, nullity also has the decree nisi followed by (a minimum of six weeks later) the decree absolute. As with divorce, though, this can take considerably longer if there are significant assets and wealth involved, especially if they are spread throughout the world.