There are two ways to bring a marriage to an end - a divorce or an annulment.
While a divorce legally ends a marriage, an annulment declares the marriage null and void, as if the marriage never existed.
The end result is the same – you and your ex are each free to marry again. And whether you divorce or want to apply for an annulment of your marriage, you are also both able to make financial claims against each other.
To annul a marriage, you or your ex must have jurisdiction (or a "sufficient connection") to be able to start proceedings in England and Wales. Unlike divorce, you can apply for annulment in the first year of your marriage.
You will need to show that the marriage:
- was never legally valid in the first place (a “void” marriage); or
- was legally valid but meets one of the reasons that makes it a “voidable” marriage
Marriages that are void are ones where:
- you’re closely related to the person you married
- you or your ex were under 16 when you married
- you or your ex was already married or in a civil partnership when you married
You can annul a voidable marriage for a number of reasons including:
- it was not consummated (although this does not apply to same-sex couples)
- you did not properly consent to the marriage (for example, you were forced into it)
- you or your ex is in the process of transitioning to a different gender
Annulments is a particularly complicated and misunderstood area of law so specialist legal advice is essential.
Annulments of marriage are rare, but we often deal with tricky situations involving void and voidable marriages. Our team has recently advised:
- a husband whose marriage was void because their ex was already married to someone else
- a husband whose marriage was void because their overseas marriage ceremony had not been correctly carried out in accordance with the laws of that country
- a wife who had married the same person twice and wasn't sure which of their marriages was the valid one
We understand that separation of any kind can be difficult. So regardless of your reasons for annulment, our expert team of family lawyers will help to make the process as easy as possible.