A marriage is about love as much as a legal agreement between two people, and in the UK must meet a set of criteria to be considered lawful and valid. In this article, we will be discussing the law in England and Wales.

What is an invalid marriage?

An invalid marriage is a marriage that does not meet the law’s requirements; then, it is considered null and, therefore, never legally binding.

Unfortunately, some people spend many years, through no fault of their own, believing they are legally married to the person they love, only to discover that they have an invalid marriage. Devastatingly, it is often only revealed when they attempt to get a divorce or when their partner dies. Subsequently, their invalid marriage significantly impacts their financial and legal rights.

What makes a marriage invalid?

A marriage is invalid if it is considered void or voidable. A void marriage was never legally valid in the first place and, therefore, under the law, never actually existed. A voidable marriage is a marriage that can still be made valid.

Reasons for a void marriage

A marriage is void when either one or both of the parties do not have the legal capacity to marry each other. In short, it is illegal for them to do so under the law, and it can never be valid. A marriage is considered void if:

  • One or both parties are under 16 years old, the age of consent.
  • The relationship is incestuous and involves close relatives such as a brother and a sister.
  • They are already married or in a civil partnership; this is called bigamy.

Reasons for a voidable marriage

A voidable marriage can become valid or be annulled depending on the two parties’ wishes. Reasons for a voidable marriage include:

  • An unconsummated marriage. It means that the two parties have not had sexual intercourse since they were married; this does not apply to same-sex couples, according to the government website, or if one person refuses to consummate it.
  • When one or both spouses did not give consent willingly, an example would be when someone is forced to marry. It includes anyone who gave consent under duress or whilst under the influence.
  • If the other person had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) when married.
  • If, at the time of the marriage, a spouse was pregnant by someone else.
  • If, after the marriage, a spouse starts the process of transitioning and is issued an interim gender recognition certificate.

Can an invalid marriage be declared valid?

Remember, if the marriage is void, it can’t be validated because it is illegal. Although, if two parties wish to confirm that it is invalid, you will need to pursue a decree of nullity, which functions in much the same way as a divorce petition. The only requirement is that you apply for it within three years of marriage. If you are seeking to apply for it outside of that time frame, you will need specialist solicitors to guide you on how to issue late permission, and at Waldron solicitors, we’re here to help.

Contact Waldrons

At Waldron Solicitors, we understand that the circumstances surrounding a void or voidable marriage can be distressing and painful. The additional stress of not knowing how to access support, manoeuvre the court system and complete the necessary applications and documents can be too much. Eliciting a solicitor’s help can streamline the process and take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Our team of expert, personable and professional solicitors are committed to doing just that by providing excellent client care and guiding you through the process with compassion. We’ve been operating since 1867 and cover many legal issues. So, regardless of the complexity or seriousness of your problem, we will resolve it efficiently and effectively using our specialist expertise. At Waldrons, no question is too small; after all, the law is our business.

Here at Waldrons our team of expert family law solicitors are on hand to speak to you, get in touch today!

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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Alka Wood who is a Solicitor