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 a void if certain legal requirements are not met. If the marriage is voidable, 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.
A marriage is void if certain conditions are met. For example, if you are closely related, you or your partner was under 16, or you or your partner was already married or in a civil partnership then your marriage will be void. 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. When this marriage is annulled it will, in law, be seen as if it never happened.
You marriage can be voidable if it wasn’t consummated (this doesn’t apply for same sex couples), you didn’t properly consent, the other person had a sexually transmitted disease or the woman was pregnant by another man. Unlike a void marriage, a voidable marriage will be seen in law as a valid marriage up until the date of the annulment. This can have 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.
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.