There are a variety of circumstances that could mean that a marriage is voidable and we go through them below:

In certain circumstances it is possible for a marriage to be annulled, which is a bit like a divorce, but is essentially saying that the marriage was not valid at the time.

There are two types of marriages that can be annulled:

  1. the first are called ‘void’ and effectively should never have been allowed to take place in the first place
  2. The second are called ‘voidable’ which means that they are defective and can be cancelled (but are not automatically cancelled like the first).

What is a void marriage?

A void marriage is one that was not legally valid in the first place. The three most obvious reasons for that would be that: (a) either of the parties to the marriage was under the age of 16 at the date of the marriage, (b) the two parties were closely related, or (c) one of the parties was already in an existing marriage. If a marriage is not legally valid, it is void – the law effectively treats it as never having taken place in the first instance. Essentially, in legal terms it never happened.

What is a voidable marriage?

There are a variety of circumstances that could mean that a marriage is voidable and we go through them below:

  • Never consummated. If you have never had sex with the person to whom you are married since the wedding, then it was not consummated and the marriage can be voidable. (The way the relevant law has been drafted means that this does not apply to same sex couples.)
  • A lack of consent. If you did not properly consent to the marriage, for example if you were drunk or if you were being forced into it, then the marriage is also voidable.
  • Pregnancy. If the wife was already pregnant by another man at the date of the wedding, then that is currently legal grounds for the marriage being voidable.
  • STDs. If either party had a sexually transmitted disease at the time of the marriage, then that would also potentially be grounds for the marriage to be voidable.

Voidable marriages that are ended are treated slightly differently in that they did exist, but have been ended (as opposed ot the void marriages above, which legally never took place).