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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; V for Void and Voidable Marriage

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Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is V for Void and Voidable Marriage. 

What is the difference between a VOID marriage and a VOIDABLE marriage? A void marriage is one that is invalid from the very beginning. As these are considered unlawful in themselves, no formalities are required for it to be terminated. However, on the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that is flawed in its validity but continues to exist.

Proceedings for nullity (voiding a marriage) are extremely rare but may be appropriate where parties have strong religious or cultural reasons for opposing divorce.

Unlike a divorce, an annulment can take place any time after you were married whereas for a divorce you have to wait 12 months.  To start an annulment it is necessary to prove that the marriage was either not valid in the first place (‘void’), or is defective (‘voidable’). Nullity proceedings are more costly than a divorce because a Court hearing will be necessary, nullity proceedings cannot be dealt with ‘on paper’.

Some instances of a Void marriage are:

  • Closely related, i.e. siblings, parent/child.
  • Either party is under the age of 16; or
  • Other grounds for nullity include the instances where, at the time of marriage, either party was already married or in a civil partnership.

Some instances where Voidable marriages may arise are:

  • The marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity or deliberate refusal of one party not to consummate it;
  • Either party to the marriage did not willingly consent and were coerced into marriage in some way.
  • At the time of the marriage one of the parties was suffering a mental health disorder so as to be unfit for marriage;
  • At the time of the marriage one party was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease;
  • At the time of the marriage one party was pregnant by someone else;

There are other reasons why a marriage may be void or voidable and the above is not an exhaustive list. If you think that any of these examples may apply to your marriage, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and one of our experienced solicitors can discuss your circumstances with you to determine if this is the case.

By Vines Legal on 13 Jan 2020, 15:44 PM

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