Annulment is a way to end a marriage by showing that it was never legally valid. It provides an alternative to divorce that can be preferable depending on your circumstances.
People commonly consider annulment to end their marriage if they do not want to wait until they have been married a year, as you do with divorce, or because they have religious or other personal reasons for wanting to avoid divorce.
However, you will only be eligible for an annulment under specific circumstances, so it is important to have expert legal advice when considering this option. Our specialist family law solicitors can advise you on whether an annulment is possible in your situation, then guide and support you through the process of getting an annulment in the UK, making it as fast and straightforward as possible.
We offer a free initial 1-hour consultation to discuss your situation with you and clearly explain your legal options. That way you can have complete confidence about your choices when deciding how to move forward.
How to annul a marriage in the UK
To have your marriage annulled, you need to meet certain conditions and then follow a strict legal process.
Grounds for annulment
There are two grounds for annulling a marriage in the UK. You must either show that the marriage was not legally valid i.e. the marriage is ‘void’ or that the marriage is defective i.e. ‘voidable’.
Reasons your marriage may not have been legally valid include:
- You and your spouse are closely related
- Either spouse was under 16 at the time of the marriage
- Either spouse was already married at the time of the marriage
If your marriage is considered void due to one of these reasons, or for any other reason, it will be considered to have never existed under the law. However, you will likely need paperwork to prove that marriage was void if you wish to get married again in future.
Reasons your marriage may be considered defective include:
- If the marriage was not consummated i.e. you and your spouse have not had sex since the wedding (this option is not currently open to same-sex couples)
- You did not properly consent to the marriage e.g. you were drunk or coerced
- Your spouse had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- Your spouse was pregnant with someone else’s child when you married
To have a defective marriage annulled, you will need to apply to a divorce court for an annulment.
Getting an annulment
To have your marriage annulled, you will need to apply for a nullity petition. You can do this any time after the marriage – there is no need to wait for a set amount of time to pass, as you do with divorce.
Once you have completed your nullity petition (usually with the assistance of a solicitor) you will need to send 2 copies of the petition to your nearest divorce court. It is also advisable to keep a copy of the petition for yourself. You will need to pay a fee of £550 to file the petition.
One the petition is filed, your spouse will have 8 days to respond, either accepting the annulment or disputing it. If they agree to the annulment, you will need to apply for a decree nisi. This is an official document stating that the court sees no reason why your marriage cannot be annulled.
If your spouse disputes the nullity petition, you may need to go to court and make your case to a judge in order to have the marriage annulled. If this is required, having expert legal advice is highly advisable to ensure your case is presented effectively.
Once you have a decree nisi, you will need to wait 6 weeks and then apply for a decree absolute (sometimes also called a ‘decree of nullity’ in annulment cases). This is the final legal document that proves your marriage has been annulled and will be needed if you wish to marry again in future.
What to bring to your first meeting with our family lawyers
When meeting with us for your initial appointment to discuss annulment, it may be helpful if you can bring the following documents:
- Your marriage certificate or certificate of civil partnership
- Any letters or documents sent to you by your spouse or their solicitors
- Any documents sent to you by a court
- Your passport or driving licence & proof of address
Why choose Crisp & Co for your annulment?
Crisp & Co’s family lawyers have been guiding people through all areas of UK marriage law for more than 20 years. We have the experience and expertise to help you identify the best legal options for you, whatever your situation.
Our goal is to help you manage your family law issues in a way that best protects your interests, saves you time and money, and allows you to avoid conflict wherever possible.
As specialists in non-confrontational family law, we are usually able to resolve your legal issues without the need for court action, using methods such as mediation and collaborative law. However, where necessary, we can also provide the skilled advocacy you need to ensure your interests are protected in court.
Crisp & Co is accredited by the Law Society for Family Law Advanced in recognition of our particular expertise in this area. We have also been awarded the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation for the strength of our practice management and client care.
Many of our team are members of Resolution – a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from family law. This means we abide by a strict code of conduct and have access to specialist training in family mediation and collaborative law, allowing us to offer the very best service to our clients.
Book a free consultation to discuss your annulment with our family lawyers in London & South East England
Get in touch with our family lawyers in London and across the South East to book a free 1-hour consultation to discuss your annulment now by calling 020 3281 7887 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.