Annulment and divorce are two different ways of ending a marriage. The key distinction is that unlike divorce, annulment voids a marriage, meaning that in the eyes of the court, the marriage is legally invalid – it is treated as if the marriage never existed.

Annulment is not as common as divorce, as it is only possible to have a marriage annulled in a limited number of very specific circumstances.

Annulments take place in court, and are normally applied for by experience family law solicitors.

Annulment: examples

Annulments are quite rare in England and Wales, and in order to apply for one it is necessary to show that the marriage should not have taken place or that one party to the marriage was not lawfully allowed to marry.

This could be shown by one of the following examples:

  • One party was already married
  • One party was under the age of 16 at the time the marriage was conducted
  • Non-consummation of the marriage
  • One party was pregnant by a third party at the time the marriage was conducted and this was not known by the other party prior to marriage taking place
  • Consent to the marriage was not valid, and was only given (for example) under duress
  • One party has a sexually transmitted disease and this was not known by the other party prior to marriage taking place
  • Either of the parties to the marriage were close relatives, such as half-brother and sister
  • One party, unknown to the other, is in receipt of or in the process of applying for a gender recognition certificate, or that this became known within six months

Annulment of the marriage can also be brought because the procedural requirements of a marriage by law did not take place.

This could be that the parties did not fill out the necessary legal forms either at all, or did so incorrectly. In order to petition for an annulment you must make an appearance at court. This again differs from a divorce which can be done purely by paper form.

Another difference is that you do not have to be married for one year before applying for an annulment, but you can petition for nullity within a reasonable time period.

What next?

A special form (D8) is available from HM Courts Service and must be completed and returned to the court. This is your annulment petition. You must include details of the grounds you are using for your application. You must complete three copies; one for the court, one for your spouse and one for your records.

At this stage it is advisable to obtain legal advice from a family law solicitor. The courts service (at time of writing) charges a fee of £340 when you make your nullity petition. However, you may be able to get this fee waived or reduced if you are on a low income.

If you are considering a marriage annulment you should take immediate legal advice from an experienced family law solicitor who will be able to talk you through the process and begin your application.

Looking to get your marriage annulled? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist family law solicitor to petition for annulment as quickly as possible. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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