Annulment is a way of ending a marriage, like divorce.
Unlike divorce, you can get a marriage annulled at any time after the wedding (in a divorce, you have to wait at least a year).
You may want an annulment if you have religious reasons for not wanting a divorce.
However, you need to show that the marriage was either not valid in the first place, or is defective for one of the reasons given below.
Your marriage is not legally valid – ‘void’ marriages
You can annul a marriage if it was not legally valid in the first place, eg:
- you are closely related
- one of you was under 16
- one of you was already married or in a civil partnership
If a marriage was not legally valid, the law says that it never existed.
However, you may need legal paperwork to prove this – eg if you want to get married again.
Your marriage is defective – ‘voidable’ marriages
You can annul a marriage if:
- it wasn’t consummated – you haven’t had sex with the person you married since the wedding (doesn’t apply for same sex couples)
- you didn’t properly consent to the marriage – eg you were drunk or forced into it
- the other person had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- the woman was pregnant by another man when you got married
Marriages annulled for these reasons are known as ‘voidable’ marriages.
The rules on ending a civil partnership are slightly different, but the court forms are the same.
You can apply to get a marriage annulled any time after the wedding.
To annul a marriage, fill in a nullity petition.
Refer to the guidance notes on completing a nullity petition.
Send 2 copies of the form to your nearest divorce court, and keep your own copy.
Filing a nullity petition form costs £410.
The other person must respond to your nullity petition within 8 days, saying if they agree the marriage should be annulled.
If they agree, you can apply for a ‘decree nisi’.
To get a decree nisi, fill in the application for decree nisi/conditional order.
Statement in support of annulment
You must also fill in a statement confirming that what you said in your nullity petition is true.
Use one of the forms below, depending on whether your marriage is ‘void’ or ‘voidable’:
- statement in support of annulment – void marriage
- statement in support of annulment – voidable marriage
You can apply for a decree absolute 6 weeks after you get the decree nisi.
In these cases, it’s also called a ‘decree of nullity’. This is the final legal document which says that the marriage has been annulled.
To apply for a decree of nullity, fill in the notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute.
A decree absolute costs £45. This fee won’t apply if you filed your petition after 1 July 2013, as it’s now part of the petition fee.
When you return your forms
The court will check if there are any reasons that the marriage can’t be annulled. In most cases, you don’t need to go to court for this.
If the court is happy, it will send you the decree of nullity. This will confirm that you’re no longer married.