Use this form to apply to end your marriage or civil partnership because it is not valid ('void') or because it is otherwise defective ('voidable').
Annulment is the declaration that a marriage was never valid. In some circumstances it is better to seek an annulment rather than a divorce. A ‘Nullity Petition’ must be presented to the courts on form D8N within 3 years of the marriage. If you seek annulment after longer than 3 years, you will need to explain why to the courts, but your application might not successful. The petitioner must also present a statement. Annulment isn’t like divorce, you can apply for nullity within the first 12 months of marriage although it is a complex process, you will need to give oral evidence, a number of hearings and also several affidavits (a formal written statement).
Even in situations where both parties are eligible and the annulment is uncontested, it can be more expensive than divorce as well as take longer. An annulment will cost in court and legal fees anywhere around £4,000 - £6,000 and take around 6-9 months, whereas divorce can only take 4. An annulment is not a reasonable way to get around the requirement of waiting a year before applying for a divorce.
Children who were born during the marriage or if their birth was legitimised by the marriage will still be legitimate after an annulment.
There are 2 types of Annulment. Void marriage and Voidable marriage.
Void marriage is a when the parties were never eligible to get married in the first place and the court will declare the marriage void. The statement is made on form D80F. A void marriage MUST be ended.
A marriage may be void if –
- The parties are prohibited degrees of a relationship.
- One party was under the age of 16 when the marriage took place.
- The parties have married with disregard of certain requirements of marriage.
- Either party was already married or in a civil partnership at the time of marriage.
- In the case of a polygamous marriage entered outside of England or Wales the marriage will be void if one party lived in England or Wales at the time of marriage.
Voidable marriage is one of the parties was married against their will or under false pretences, a voidable marriage does not have to end if both parties consent to its continuation. The courts treat the marriage as a valid marriage up until the decree (order that has force of the law) of annulment. Finances are treated the same was as a divorce. The statement is on for D50G.
A marriage may be voidable if –
- The marriage has not ben consummated (no sexual intercourse has taken place since the beginning of marriage, sexual intercourse before marriage is irrelevant). If the marriage has not been consummated it it’s impossible to commit adultery, an annulment is the right way to end the marriage instead of divorce on the grounds of adultery.
- Either party did not consent to the marriage.
- Either party was suffering from a mental disorder/ illness at the time of marriage.
- Either party was suffering from a communicable venereal disease at the time of marriage.
- The respondent was pregnant by a third party at the time of marriage.
- One party has been issued a intermit gender certificate (a certificate that allows transgender people to be legally recognised as their acquired gender) since the marriage began.
- The respondent’s gender has become the acquired gender at the time of marriage.
Here are some guidance notes to help you: -