Unless specified, this information relates only to England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.

You can apply to have your marriage declared void (which means invalid from the start) if:

  • you’re closely related
  • you’re the same sex
  • one of you was under 16 at the time of the marriage
  • one of you was already married or in a civil partnership
  • you didn’t comply with certain registration requirements
  • your in a polygomous marriage

The legal procedure of declaring a marriage void is called annulment.

You can apply to have your civil partnership declared void if:

  • you and your civil partner are closely related by blood (or in some cases by marriage or civil partnership)
  • you and your civil partner are not the same sex
  • one of you was under 16 at the time of the civil partnership
  • one of you was already married or in a civil partnership
  • you didn’t comply with certain registration requirements

If your marriage or civil partnership is declared void, it’s a good idea to get legal paperwork to prove it, in case you want to get married or enter into a civil partnership again.

A marriage or civil partnership can also be voidable in some circumstances. Voidable means that it can be annulled, rather than simply being void from the start. The marriage will be valid until it is annulled.

Marriages or civil partnerships can be voidable if, at the time of the marriage or civil partnership, you or your partner:

  • didn’t properly agree to the marriage or civil partnership (for example, forced marriage)
  • was pregnant by someone else
  • was issued with an interim gender recognition certificate or acquired a new gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004

A marriage may also be voidable if, at the time of the marriage, you or your partner had a sexually transmitted disease.

Your application for annulment may not be successful if you acted in such a way towards your partner which meant that they would reasonably have believed that you would not apply.

Annulment is the legal procedure of declaring a marriage or civil partnership void.

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