Annulment brings an end to a marriage by declaring the marriage to be ‘null and void’. However, unlike marriage it is effectively retrospective, as if the marriage had never taken place.
Whilst this can be an attractive option for couples who wish to end their marriage, annulment as an option is only available in rare circumstances and where legal grounds are carefully made out;
- Void marriages – this is where a marriage was never legally valid ab initio because for example
- The parties are closely related
- One of the parties was under the age of 16
- One of the parties was already married or in a civil partnership
- Voidable marriages – in such circumstances a voidable marriage can be ‘annulled’ i.e.
- it wasn’t consummated (you haven’t had sex with the person you married since the wedding)
- you didn’t properly consent to the marriage – eg you were drunk or forced into it
- the other person had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- the woman was pregnant by another man when you got married
Although there are slightly different rules for a civil partnership, the court forms to annul a civil partnership are the same.