An Annulment is where the marriage is dissolved but it differs from divorce in that the marriage was considered never to have taken place. If there are enough grounds for an Annulment to be obtained, the Court will grant a Decree of Nullity dissolving the marriage.
Annulments are very rare and indeed are very difficult to obtain. In most cases it is preferable to obtain a divorce rather than an annulment.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) about Annulments
In what circumstances can a marriage be annulled?
There are two circumstances where the marriage can be dissolved:
- If it is considered that the marriage never took place.
- If the marriage did commence but for some reason can be annulled
When is a marriage considered void (i.e. not to have taken place)?
According to the relevant Act, the following circumstances are given:
- If either party was already married and there was no Decree Absolute;
- If either party was under the age of 16 at the time of the ceremony;
- If the parties are too closely related to each other to marry.
When is it considered that the marriage did commence but can be annulled?
The following grounds are given by the Act:
- If the marriage has not been consummated (i.e. the parties have not had sex), owing to the incapacity of either party or the refusal of the other party
- One of the parties did not consent to the marriage
- One of the parties did not have the mental capacity to go through with the marriage
- That the Respondent was pregnant by a third party
- If there are issues of gender of either partner
Are there any barriers to getting an annulment?
The grounds above need to be shown. Over and beyond that there may be the following bars:
- That the Applicant, knowing that he/she could obtain an annulment lead the Respondent to reasonably believe that he/she would not apply for an annulment.
- Proceedings should be taken within three years of the Registration, although there is provision in certain circumstances for leave to be granted outside that period, this should definitely not be relied on.
What document will the Court produce to record the annulment?
The document will be a “Decree of Nullity” and after this has been pronounced, it will be as though the marriage never took place.
Will the court take into account arrangements for any children?
If there are children then the parties will need to complete a Statement of Arrangements for children when applying for the annulment. This sets out the arrangements for the children such as their education and living arrangements.
Is it easy to get an annulment?
The short answer is no. The grounds for an annulment are very difficult to prove and it is rare that those separating fall into the categories to apply for one.
To find out more, please contact us.