What Is Annulment or Voiding Of A Marriage & Who Does It Apply To?
Annulment is a way to end a marriage by showing that it was never legally valid to begin with. It can be preferable to divorce depending on your circumstances.
Many people who use annulment rather than divorce do so if they want to end their marriage immediately (in under a year), which cannot be done through divorce. Alternatively, they could have religious or personal beliefs that mean they want to avoid “divorce”.
However, not all marriages are eligible for annulment, so this isn’t an option to anyone who simply wants to avoid divorce within the first year. You can apply for annulment any time after a marriage, even years. But if you do wait for a long time to apply for annulment, you may be asked to explain why.
What Criteria Must Be Fulfilled To Apply For Annulment?
For a marriage to be annulled, you must prove one of the following 2 points:
- The marriage was never legally valid or is “void”
- The marriage was legally valid but meets one of the criteria that makes it “voidable”
Void Marriages – When Your Marriage Is Not Legally Valid
If your marriage was never valid in the first place, you can have it annulled and it will be considered to have never existed under law in the first place. However, you may require legal paperwork (a ‘decree of nullity’ or ‘nullity of marriage order’) to show that your marriage was void should you wish to remarry in the future.
Your marriage is void if:
- you’re closely related to the person you married
- one or both of you were under 16 at the time of marriage
- one of you was already married or in a civil partnership at the time of marriage
Voidable Marriages – When Your Marriage Was Legally Valid, But Can Be Void
Where a marriage was valid at the time of occurrence, but you wish to annul it now, you can use one of the following grounds:
- The Marriage was never consummated, i.e., you have not had sexual intercourse with your spouse since the wedding (this does not currently apply for same sex couples)
- You did not properly consent to the marriage, e.g., you were coerced or incapable of making the decision, such as intoxication with drugs or alcohol
- Your spouse had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) when you got married
- Your spouse was pregnant by someone else when you got married
- One spouse is in the process of transitioning to a different gender (more information here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-gender-recognition-certificate)
What Steps Do I Need To Take To Get My Marriage Annulled?
Firstly, you should apply to the Court for a nullity petition. This can be done any time after the marriage and there is no set amount of time that must pass before this can be done. You should complete your nullity petition with the help of a solicitor to ensure everything is correct before sending 2 copies to the Court. You should also retain a copy for yourself. There is a Court fee of £593 for filing the petition. If you are on benefits or low income, you may be able to get assistance with court fees.
After receiving your application, the Court will send you notice that it has been issued. Your spouse then has 14 days to respond to the petition, either accepting the annulment or disputing it. If they agree with the petition then you will apply to the Court for a conditional order (previously a decree nisi). This is an official document stating that the Court sees no reason why the marriage shouldn’t be annulled.
If your spouse disputes the application for annulment then you may need to go to Court and present your case in front of a judge in order to have the marriage annulled. A solicitor should be retained at this point to assist you in the Court proceedings and help to present your case effectively.
Once you have been issued with your conditional order, you have to wait for 6 weeks and then apply for your final order (previously a decree absolute). When you apply for the final order, the Court will check again that there is no reason why the marriage should not be annulled and, if they are happy with this, the final order will be issued, confirming that you and your spouse are no longer married. If your marriage was legally void, then this document will confirm that you were never legally married.
Here at Vines Legal, we are experts in divorce and annulment or marriage and can guide you through the appropriate steps required, ensuring that all matters are considered and all information required is presented to the Court. If you are considering divorce or think that your marriage can be annulled, then call us to book your FREE, no obligation initial consultation on 01246 555 610 and we can discuss your particular circumstances and the options available to you. You can also contact us on email@example.com or via our contact form here.
By Vines Legal on 13 Feb 2023, 14:38 PM