Annulment of Marriage
Reasons for Annulment
- Marriage was not allowed and so it never really existed. This is called a void marriage
- Somethings which are expected in a marriage were not met. The court can then annul these marriages. They are called voidable marriages.
If you are thinking of asking for your marriage to be annulled, you don’t have to use a lawyer but it may be wise to do so. The Judicial Greffe or Citizens Advice Jersey can give you information on lawyers who specialise in family matters and are members.
A marriage is void if:
- either person was under sixteen years of age at the time of the marriage
- either person is already married to someone else
- the two people are closely related to each other and legally unable to marry
- the marriage ceremony was not properly carried out
If you feel that your marriage may have been invalid for any of the above reasons, you should contact the Superintendent Registrar to check the facts. The Registrar has to pass on the matter to the Attorney General for a ruling where the parties do not agree, although this is very rare. Bigamy is a criminal offence and you should get legal advice.
The Royal Court may annul a marriage and give what is called a declaration of nullity where the marriage is either void or voidable. It is regarded as never having happened. It is better to take legal advice and to get an annulment so that there is no doubt as to whether you are or are not married. This would be important if, for example, one person wished to get married again.
A marriage is voidable and may be annulled if
- there is an ongoing inability to have sex by either party since the marriage date
- either partner has without reason refused to consummate the marriage
- the marriage took place as a result of fraud, threats or pressure put on the person asking for the annulment by their partner
- the husband is asking for an annulment as his wife was pregnant by someone else, unless the pregnancy came from a relationship with the wife’s former husband whilst she was still legally married to him
- the person you married had a sexually transmitted infection at the time of the marriage
- a gender recognition certificate has, after the time of marriage, been issued to either party
- either party is taking steps to have their gender changed as recognised by law
- if the gender at the time of marriage for one party was an acquired gender
- either party at the time of the marriage was mentally unstable or had repeated attacks of insanity or epilepsy
In the case of the grounds on gender change, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection and insanity it must be shown that
- you were not aware of those facts at the time of the marriage
- you are asking for an annulment within a year of the date of the marriage
- since you discovered the facts alleged, consensual sex has not taken place
Any cases for annulment on the grounds of impotency, or not consummating the marriage are held in private rather than in open court.
You apply for an annulment in much the same way that you petition for a divorce. There is no need for a hearing unless the annulment is contested. Contested means that the other person does not agree with it. A decree of annulment in a voidable marriage starts from the time the decree is made absolute. The marriage is treated as if it existed up to that time.
Full details can be found under Article 18 of the Matrimonial Causes (Jersey) Law 1949 (revised)
Children of a Void Marriage
The children of a marriage declared void through matters that could not have been foreseen, where both people involved thought they were legally married, would remain children of the marriage, but only if the father is resident in Jersey.