Getting an Annulment in the UK
An annulment is a court order which ends a marriage or civil partnership. The law perceives that a marriage never existed because there are defects with the legalities. There are cultural or religious reasons why people may prefer to get an annulment instead of a divorce. An annulment declares a marriage has no validity in law whilst a divorce is a legal process of ending a marriage.
The Conditions for Getting an Annulment
Certain conditions must be present before you can get an annulment. An annulment can only be obtained in limited circumstances. You or your spouse must have either lived in England or Wales for at least a year or have had a permanent home in England or Wales for at least 6 months. An annulment must be applied for within a reasonable period of time. This is usually within 0-3 years of marriage. If a significant amount of time passes, you may need to explain why you waited so long before you applied for an annulment.
The Grounds for Getting an Annulment
An annulment can be sought where the marriage was legally invalid or becomes voidable.
A marriage is legally invalid where:
- You are closely related to your spouse;
- You or your spouse are under 16; or
- You or your spouse were already in a marriage or civil partnership.
A marriage becomes voidable where:
- The marriage was not consummated;
- The marriage was not consented to;
- You or your spouse had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) when you got married;
- You or your spouse got pregnant by someone else when you got married; or
- You or your spouse are transitioning into a different gender.
The Application Process
There is a strict legal process for getting an annulment. A marriage can be annulled by filling in a nullity petition. You will need to file 2 copies with your nearest family court and retain a copy for yourself. It costs £550 to file a nullity petition. Your spouse must respond to your nullity petition within 8 days by stating whether they agree or disagree with the annulment. If your spouse agrees with the annulment, you will need to apply for a decree nisi which confirms that there is no reason why the marriage cannot be annulled and a statement confirming that everything stated in the nullity petition is correct.
The court will assess the forms to determine whether there are any reasons why the marriage cannot be annulled. The court can reject an application if there is evidence that shows that the person knew about the situation beforehand and accepted it. If the court is satisfied that the marriage can be annulled, they will send you a decree of nullity which confirms that you were never legally married or are no longer married. The process can take 3-6 months or longer depending on the complexity of the case.
A financial settlement is a binding court order which sets out your financial arrangement with your spouse. It is important to finalise your annulment by obtaining a financial settlement. Otherwise, a financial claim can be made after your marriage has been annulled and there is no time limit for a financial claim.
How NA Law Solicitors can help?
Our team of family law experts are highly trained and experienced in annulment laws and court procedures. We are here to handle your case with sensitivity and discretion. Our goal is to avoid conflict, resolve your legal issues without going to court and protect your best interests. Contact us today to receive our support and guidance.