Void & Voidable Marriages
Though generally rare, there are a number of specific circumstances where a particular defect will render a marriage/civil partnership void or voidable. This is known as nullity.
In either case of nullity, applications for a financial order can still be commenced in the Family Court, in a similar way as with a divorce.
Our family law solicitors are well equipped to manage the nullity proceedings with broad-ranging experience across all kinds of reasons leading to the management of void and voidable marriages.
What is the difference between void and voidable marriages?
A void marriage is deemed to have not existed from the outset.
A voidable marriage only exists until such time as it is annulled.
Void marriages or civil partnerships include marriages where the parties are too closely related; where either party was already married; or where either party was under 16 at the time.
Voidable marriages and civil partnerships include marriages where:
- There was lack of consent to the marriage (whether by mistake, duress, or lack of capacity)
- The marriage has not been consummated (although this does not apply to same-sex marriage)
- The other party was suffering from a mental disorder or a communicable venereal disease
- The other party is pregnant by another person at the time of the marriage.
Time Window for Voidable Marriage
It is important to note that strict time limits apply in respect of some of the grounds for voidable marriages.
Proceedings based on certain grounds (e.g. mental disorder and venereal disease) must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the marriage, unless permission is granted by the court.
Nullity proceedings can be commenced without having to wait one year from the date of marriage or civil partnership, as is required before starting divorce proceedings.
There are also certain situations where there is no marriage at all. These are sometimes referred to as ‘non-marriages’ or ‘non-qualifying ceremonies’.
It is vital to note that such ceremonies will not give rise to the possibility of financial claims in the Family Court, as there is essentially no marriage or ceremony that is capable in any way of giving rise to even a void or voidable marriage (as explained above).
The distinction between a ‘non-marriage’ and a void marriage can be very technical.
Speak with the Family Law & Nullity Experts
At Slater Heelis, our expert family lawyers are specialists at advising on the intricacies of defective marriages.
If you would like to find out more, please call 0161 969 3131 or fill in the contact form and we will be in touch.
Our Family Law Team
members on 0161 969 3131
- Mark Heptinstall Partner & Head of Family
- Phillip Rhodes Partner
- Patricia Robinson Partner
- Rebecca Muirhead Associate Solicitor
- Rebecca Lang Associate Solicitor
- Eluned Roberts Solicitor
- David Wilkinson Solicitor
- Joanne Taylor Associate Chartered Legal Executive
- Charlotte Beck Partner
- Claire Higham Solicitor