The law regards some marriages completely invalid from the outset or potentially invalid but which will remain in force until a decree of nullity is granted. A marriage can therefore be annulled on the grounds that it is void or voidable for any of the following reasons:
- If the marriage hasn’t been ‘consummated’ (you haven’t had sex with the person you married since the wedding), either because one of you chooses not to or is not physically capable
- If either party was already married at the time of your marriage
- If either party didn’t or was unable to give valid consent to the marriage
- If you or your spouse was under 16 at the time of the wedding
- If you weren’t a fully male/female couple
- If you and your spouse were related
- If your spouse had a communicable form of a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- If your spouse was pregnant with someone else’s child and you didn’t know about it
- If you didn’t conform with the proper legal requirements – i.e. not filling in forms properly
Contrary to a divorce, a petition for nullity also requires oral evidence being given in Court.
The nullity petition is dealt with in much the same way as for a divorce petition, except as explained below:
- It may be presented within 12 months of marriage (whereas a divorce petition can only be issued after the parties have been married for 12 months;
- The content will not include reference to the marriage having irretrievably broken down;
- The prayer will seek the annulment of the marriage;
- Although the petition is served in exactly the same way as a divorce petition, the notice of proceedings and acknowledgement of serve will refer to nullity;
It is particularly important to note that the special procedure provisions do not apply – i.e. the application for directions for trial cannot be dealt with by correspondence only and the matter will be listed for a hearing where the judge will decide whether to grant the first stage of the nullity proceedings, the decree nisi.
As with divorce proceedings, a decree nisi will be pronounced and, after the expiration of the statutory period (presently 6 weeks), an application can be made for decree absolute (the final decree).
Once the annulment is finalised, it is as if the marriage had never taken place.
We can help you through this difficult process and deal with issues as they arise in a sympathetic, focused manner.