A Decree of Nullity is a Court Order that confirms that your marriage has been legally terminated. As opposed to divorce, annulment will place you in a position as if the marriage had not existed legally.

If you are of the view that there are circumstances that may render your marriage to be void or voidable, our expert team of solicitors will be able provide you with comprehensive advice on the best possible method of terminating your marriage and the implications of each method.

When can I apply for an Annulment?

Unlike divorce, which requires parties to be married for the minimum of one year, an application for an annulment may be made at any time following the marriage. You should note however, that certain time restrictions do apply depending on the ground of annulment and specialist advice should be sought from our solicitors to see whether these may apply to you.

The procedure for Annulment

Step 1

Application to the Court for a Decree of Nullity

In order to commence proceedings for an Annulment, you will primarily be required to file a Petition for Annulment to the Family Court. The petition will need to be supported by a ‘statement of case’ outlining your reasons as to why the marriage should be annulled.

Step 2

Acknowledgement of Service

Once the petition has been issued by the Family Court, your spouse will be sent a copy of the issued petition in conjunction with a document namely an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ which they will be required to complete and return to the Court, confirming whether they wish to defend the petition for Annulment.

Step 3

The Decree Nisi Stage

Once your spouse has acknowledged the divorce petition, you will then be able to make an application for a Decree Nisi which is a Court Order confirming that the Court is satisfied that your marriage has broken down irretrievably, and the date that you will be able to apply for a final Order confirming the marriage has legally ended.

Step 4

The Decree Absolute (Decree of Nullity)

The final stage of a divorce will be to obtain a Decree Absolute/ Decree of Nullity which is a Court Order confirming that the marriage between you and your spouse has legally terminated.

What will I need to prove?

To obtain a Decree of Nullity, you will be required to evidence that your marriage is either ‘void’ or ‘voidable’.

What is a void marriage?

A ‘void’ marriage is a marriage that will be considered as having being invalid and legally ineffective from the date it took place. Whilst void marriages are considered as having never existed, you must obtain a Court Order confirming the same. Your marriage may be void if it took place under the following circumstances.

  • If you are in a prohibited degree of relationship (i.e related to your spouse)
  • If you or your spouse were under 16 on the date of your marriage
  • If you were married in a manner which disregards the law relating to the formation of marriage
  • If you and your spouse were legally married to another individual on the date of your marriage
  • If your marriage took place whilst you were residing in the UK, and the marriage was polygamous.

What is a ‘voidable’ marriage?

As opposed to a void marriage, a ‘voidable’ marriage is one that is held as having being legally established, until the Decree of Nullity has been obtained confirming that the marriage has been legally terminated. The grounds for obtaining a Decree of Nullity on the basis that a marriage is ‘voidable’ are as follows:

  • If your marriage has not been ‘consummated’ whether due to the incapacity of either spouse, or the lack of consent of either party (only in couples who are of the opposite sex)
  • If you did not consent to the marriage and the marriage has taken place for reasons such as coercion, or unsoundness of mind
  • If your spouse was pregnant with the child of another individual at the date of your marriage
  • If your spouse has a mental disorder
  • If your spouse had a sexually transmitted disease
  • If your spouse has or is in the process of changing their gender

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