An annulment is a court order which ends a marriage or civil partnership. Once secured, this would mean that a marriage never existed. 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.

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