Sometimes a marriage can be ended through an annulment (nullity) rather than a divorce. Very specific conditions must be met to obtain an annulment, and even if you meet them, your financial, business and childcare arrangements will still need to be finalised. An annulment can be sought at any time after a wedding, but cases can be complicated, and you may have to go to court to give evidence. 

Annulment means that a valid marriage never existed. Two types of marriages may be annulled or cancelled - void marriages and voidable marriages.

If your marriage is void, it is deemed to have never taken place. Technically, you don’t need to go to court to obtain a decree of annulment, but, it is advisable to obtain a court order declaring that your marriage is annulled to eliminate any doubt.

If your marriage is voidable, it is deemed to be a valid marriage until a decree of annulment is made.

An annulment differs from separation or divorce because it acknowledges that a legal marriage never existed. If you believe your marriage is null, the family law solicitors at HOMS Assist can help. First you need to know the main grounds to apply for an annulment: 

  • Marriage ceremony formalities, such as giving appropriate notice to the Registrar of Marriages, were not complied with.
  • One party lacks the capacity to marry because, for example:
    • the person is aged under 18 and does not have a court order to allow the marriage
    • the person is married already
    • the person is in a civil partnership with another
    • the parties are too closely related to each other
  • Consent has not been given because, for example:
    • one party was not fully informed about the responsibilities of marriage due to fraud, mental illness, misrepresentation, error or coercion. 
    • one party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage.
  • A proper marriage relationship was not possible at the time of the marriage because of one party’s sexual orientation, personality disorder, or psychiatric illness, for example.

Annulling a Civil Partnership

A civil partnership may be annulled for many of the reasons cited above for annulling a marriage. These include:

  • One or both parties are married legally already.
  • Civil partnership formalities were not complied with properly.
  • One or both parties failed to give valid consent

A civil partnership cannot be deemed void due to either party’s inability to consummate or form or sustain a proper relationship, however.