Actor Nicholas Cage recently filed for an annulment of his marriage – after just four days. In England and Wales, there is provision for ‘void and voidable’ marriages leading to a decree of nullity. Such proceedings are rare and are usually applied for when parties have strong religious or cultural beliefs against obtaining a divorce.
Void marriages are less common; under Section 11 of Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 a marriage celebrated after 31 July 1971 shall be void on one of three grounds – including that it is not a valid marriage under the provisions of Marriage Acts 1949 to 1986 (this includes when either party is under the age of sixteen).
Void marriages are less common than voidable; voidable is most commonly interpreted as annulment in that the marriage is regarded as valid until a degree annulling it has been pronounced by the court. Under Section 12 of Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 there are eight grounds on which a marriage celebrated after 31 July 1971 shall be voidable, including:
- that the marriage has not been consummated, whether this be owing to the incapacity of either party or the willful refusal of the respondent to consummate it;
- that either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise;
- that at the time of the marriage either party, though capable of giving a valid consent, was suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfitted for marriage.
Whether the marriage is void or voidable, Orders for financial provision under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 can still be applied for.
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