Annulment of Marriage

What Is Annulment of Marriage

In strict Legal terminology, annulment refers only to making a voidable marriage null; if the marriage is void ab initio, then it is automatically null, although a legal declaration of nullity is required to establish this.

Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. With the exception of bigamy and not meeting the minimum age requirement for marriage, it is rarely granted. A marriage can be declared null and void if certain legal requirements were not met at the time of the marriage. If these legal requirements were not met then the marriage is considered to have never existed in the eyes of the law. This process is called annulment. It is very different from divorce in that while a divorce dissolves a marriage that has existed, a marriage that is annulled never existed at all. Thus unlike divorce, it is retroactive: an annulled marriage is considered never to have existed.

Grounds For Annulment

The grounds for a marriage annulment may vary according to the different legal jurisdictions, but are generally limited to fraud, bigamy, blood relationship and mental incompetence including the following:

  1. Either spouse was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage in question;
  2. Either spouse was too young to be married, or too young without required court or parental consent. (In some cases, such a marriage is still valid if it continues well beyond the younger spouse’s reaching marriageable age);
  3. Either spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage;
  4. Either spouse was mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage;
  5. If the consent to the marriage was based on fraud or force;
  6. Either spouse was physically incapable to be married (typically, chronically unable to have sexual intercourse) at the time of the marriage;
  7. Marriage is prohibited by law due to the relationship between the parties. This is the “prohibited degree of consanguinity”, or blood relationship between the parties. The most common legal relationship is 2nd cousins; the legality of such a relationship between 1st cousins varies around the world.
  8. Prisoners sentenced to a term of life imprisonment may not marry.
  9. Concealment (e.g. one of the parties concealed a drug addiction, prior criminal record, or having a sexually transmitted disease)
How Does an Annulment Differ From a Divorce?

When you get divorced, it ends your marriage. An annulment, on the other hand, treats a marriage as though it never existed. The two aren’t interchangeable, and an annulment normally is more difficult to obtain.

Although there’s relatively little stigma attached to divorce today, some people still view it as socially unacceptable. These individuals are likely to pursue an annulment, with divorce as a last resort. Likewise, there are those who seek an annulment for religious reasons.

The bottom line is that in today’s environment you’re much more likely to qualify for a divorce than an annulment. So the choice of which avenue to pursue may be out of your hands.

When Can a Marriage Be Annulled and How Do I Know if I Qualify?

A marriage can be annulled only when the law concludes that your marriage was “void” or “voidable.” In order to make that determination, it’s crucial to examine the circumstances surrounding the marriage.

There’s a major distinction between “void” and “voidable.” A void marriage automatically qualifies for an annulment, because it’s based on an illegal act. In a voidable marriage, however, legal reasons for an annulment may exist, but they won’t invalidate the marriage unless one of the spouses requests the annulment.

The most obvious effect of an annulment is that it renders the marriage null and void. But there are other possible consequences.

Basis of An Annulment

In Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, there are some conditions laid down for a Hindu Marriage which must be fulfilled in case of any marriage between two Hindus which can be solemnized in accordance with the requirements of this Act.

Section 5 Condition for a Hindu Marriage

A marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:

  1. Neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;
  2. At the time of the marriage, neither party,-
    1. is incapable of giving a valid consent of it in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or
    2. though capable of giving a valid consent has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or
    3. has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;
  3. The bridegroom has completed the age of twenty-one years and the bride the age of eighteen years at the time of the marriage;
  4. The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two;
  5. The parties are not sapindas of each other unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two:

An annulment may be granted when a marriage is automatically void under the law for public policy reasons or voidable by one party when certain requisite elements of the marriage contract were not present at the time of the marriage

Void Marriage-: According to Section 11 of the Hindu marriage Act, a void marriage means which is void since its beginning or inception. In other words, it does not exist. It is called as a marriage because two persons have undergone the ceremonies required to perform a marriage, and thus become husband and wife.


According to Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, there are four grounds of voidable marriage which are available in respect to both the pre act and post act marriage. Such grounds are as follows:-

  • the account of his or her impotency
  • If the respondent is not in his mental capacity and is of unsound mind then he can’t give consent to the marriage as he is not in his senses while giving consent to such a marriage
  • Concealments of the pre-marriage pregnancy by the respondent are the ground for the voidable marriage. The ground is the pre-marriage pregnancy of the bride and not her unchaste. The requirements of this ground are as follows:-
  • Respondent was pregnant at the time of the marriage
  • She was pregnant from a person other than the petitioner
  • The petitioner at the time if the marriage didn’t know about such pregnancy
  • The petition must be represented within one year of the commencement of the act in respect of the preact marriage and within one year of marriage in respect of the post-marriage
  • Marital intercourse did not take place with the consent of the petitioner after the discovery of the respondent’s pregnancy by the petitioner.
  • Consent of the petitioner being obtained by the fraud and force, then it would amount to a voidable marriage. If the consent of the person is not given to a particular marriage according to his/her consent or against the will of the person or by fraud or forcefully then it can be taken up as a ground for the divorce.

What’s the Effect of an Annulment?

The most obvious effect of an annulment is that it renders the marriage null and void. But there are other possible consequences. For example, it could impact a spouse’s ability to get support (alimony) from the other spouse. Likewise, it might affect a spouse’s rights to property acquired during the marriage. So you should definitely consult with a family law attorney before making any decisions regarding annulment.

If you are facing Issues in your Matrimonial life and want to have Legal Consultations with the empanelled Matrimonial Experts at The Divorce Lawyer.

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