An annulment is a way of ending your marriage in certain circumstances by either being void or voidable. Many people assume it is the same as divorce but it is actually a completely different legal process. The reasons you can use to get an annulment are different from divorce and, if a Decree of Nullity is approved by the court, it will be as if you never got ‘married’ at all.
Our specialist family lawyers are here to provide you with advice and help you navigate the process quickly with minimal conflict so you can get on with your life as soon as possible.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation to all prospective family law clients to talk through your options and your eligibility for an annulment.
Why choose our annulment solicitors?
At Pickering & Butters, we understand that there are many reasons why getting an annulment might be a better option than getting a divorce.
We approach all annulment matters sensitively but practically. We will be clear about your prospects and set out all of your options so you can make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.
All of our family law team – Amy Bedford, Donna Nicholls, Gill Patterson and Karen Wilson – are members of Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers who are dedicated to helping individuals and families find positive solutions to their issues. If it is in your best interests, we will help you resolve all matters associated with your annulment out of court, saving you considerable time, costs and stress.
As a firm, we are members of the Law Society Lexcel Accreditation scheme for our excellent standards of client care and legal practice management.
We are happy to offer our new qualifying family law clients a no obligation, free 30-minute consultation so we can get to know each other and you can decide whether our approach suits your individual needs.
What is an annulment?
An annulment is a declaration that a marriage or civil partnership is either:
- Void – it was never legally a marriage
- Voidable – it was a legal marriage but you have a reason why it should not be
What are the grounds for annulment?
To get a marriage annulment, you need to show that your marriage or civil partnership is either void or voidable. We can provide you with advice regarding this.
Ground for annulment – reasons a marriage can be void
- You or your spouse were married at the time of the marriage or civil partnership
- You and your spouse are closely related
- Your or your spouse were under 16 years old when you got married
Grounds for annulment – reasons a marriage can be voidable or defective
- The marriage was never consummated (you and your spouse have not have sexual intercourse since the wedding) – this is currently only available to opposite-sex couples. You cannot annul on this ground if you refuse to consummate the marriage, only if your spouse refuses or you are physically unable to
- You did not provide adequate consent to the union, for example, you were coerced into it or you were drunk
- Your spouse was pregnant with another person’s child when you got married
- Your spouse had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- You or your spouse is transitioning to a different gender
What is the difference between divorce and annulment?
Divorce is the process of legally ending a marriage where there is no question that the marriage was valid. Acceptable reasons to get a divorce include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or separation for at least two years.
Annulment applies to marriages or civil partnership that were either never valid in the first place or should be declared invalid because of some reason. Once the Decree of Nullity is made, it is as if the wedding or civil partnership ceremony never took place.
This distinction can be extremely important. For example, in some cultures and religions, marriage is for life and divorce is either frowned upon or explicitly banned. Getting divorced may also prevent a person from ever remarrying within their own community. However, annulment is often more acceptable because the marriage was not valid to begin with.
The requirements for divorce and annulment are also different, for example:
- You cannot get a divorce or dissolution within the first year of marriage or civil partnership
- There is one primary ground for divorce or dissolution – the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship which can be proved using various reasons such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Annulment is only possible if you can prove one of the reasons set out in the ‘what are the grounds for annulment’ section above.
Annulment time limits
Unlike divorce, you can get an annulment straight away after the marriage. However, you must start nullity proceedings within three years from the date of the marriage.
Contact our annulment solicitors in Staffordshire
We offer a free 30-minute consultation to all new family law clients to talk through your options and your eligibility for an annulment.