1. How can you annul a marriage?

Annulment (sometimes known as ‘nullity’) is a different way of ending a marriage. Unlike divorce, you can apply for annulment in the first year of your marriage or any time after the one year. If you apply years after the wedding, you might be asked to explain the delay in applying for an annulment.

You will need to show that the marriage:

  • Was never legally valid (‘void’); or
  • Was legally valid, but meets one of the reasons that makes it ‘voidable’
  • What is a void marriage?

A void marriage is a marriage which is not legally valid and is treated as though it never existed.

Examples of when a marriage can be void:

  • You’re closely related to the person you married
  • One or both of you were under 18 years old (or under 16 if the marriage took place before 27 February 2023)
  • One of you was already married or in a civil partnership
  • In a polygamous marriage conducted outside the England & Wales jurisdiction, either party was domiciled in England & Wales at the time of the marriage
  • What is a voidable marriage?

A voidable marriage is a marriage that is missing one or more of the normal elements of a marriage. The reasons for a marriage being void can be found in section 12 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and are as per below:

  • The marriage was not consummated, meaning that you have not had sexual intercourse with the person you married since the wedding. This does not apply for same sex couples.
  • You did not properly consent to the marriage, for example by being forced into it
  • The other person had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) when you got marriage
  • Your spouse was pregnant by someone else when you got married
  • One spouse is in the process of transitioning to a different gender

A voidable marriage exists until you obtain a nullity of marriage order.

The other spouse may successfully challenge the making of a nullity of marriage order if they can satisfy the court that the petitioner, knowing that the marriage could ended led the respondent reasonably to believe they would not seek to end the marriage or it would be unjust to the respondent to grant a nullity of marriage order.

  • Do the same rules apply to civil partnerships?

The civil partnership can be annulled in the same way as a marriage. An order annulling a civil partnership is known as a ‘nullity order’. A civil partnership between a same sex couple cannot be terminated by nullity due to non-consummation of the relationship.

If you require any further information about annulling a marriage and void and voidable marriages then please do not hesitate to contact the Family Team at Paul Robinson Solicitors on 01702 338338. We offer an initial fixed fee consultation appointment with one of our family experts.