In this blog, we answer some frequently asked questions in relation to annulments.
What is a marriage annulment?
An annulment is one of the two ways of legally ending a marriage. The other is divorce.
How long do you have to be married to get a marriage annulment?
The key difference between an annulment and a divorce, is that a divorce cannot take place within the first year of the marriage.
However, you can apply for an annulment at any point after the marriage takes place, as long as the technical requirements are met (more on those below). A former client of mine applied to have their marriage annulled 7 days after their wedding.
Do I qualify for a marriage annulment?
You can only apply for an annulment if you can demonstrate that one, or more of the following apply:
- you and your spouse are closely related;
- at the time of marriage, either or both of you were under 16 years old;
- at the time of marriage, either or both of you were already married or in a civil partnership;
- the marriage has not been consummated. In practice, annulment of a marriage based on lack of consummation can be difficult to prove. In addition, this ground for annulment cannot apply to same sex marriages;
- either of you did not consent to the marriage – for example, you were married whilst drunk or were forced to marry your spouse;
- the person you married had a sexually transmitted disease when you married them;
- in a heterosexual marriage, the woman was pregnant by another man when you were married.
How do annulments work?
The granting of an annulment renders a marriage null and void. Once an annulment has been granted, it is as if the marriage never existed.
How do I get a marriage annulment?
In a similar vein to the petitioner in a divorce, a spouse who wishes to have their marriage annulled sends a nullity petition to the court that cites at least one of the above grounds for annulment.
If the nullity petition is not contested by your spouse, you can then apply for Decree Nisi, which is the first decree of nullity. Six weeks and one day after Decree Nisi is pronounced, you can apply for Decree Absolute, which is the final decree of annulment and formally ends your marriage.
If you need some guidance as to how to how to prepare a nullity petition, contact us.
Can I claim for financial relief on marriage annulment?
Yes, absolutely. The courts consider claims for financial relief on an application for an annulment in the same way as they would do on an application for divorce. If you are unsure as to where you stand in relation to the finances of the marriage, seek advice.
For more information on the issues raised in this blog, contact one of our family law specialists. Contact us.