Nullity of marriage or Civil Partnership

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Nullity of marriage or civil partnership is a declaration by a court that your supposed marriage or civil partnership is null and void, and that no valid marriage or civil partnership exists between you and your spouse or partner. In other words, it is a declaration that the supposed marriage or civil partnership never happened.

In nullity of marriage law, there are two types of marriages that may be annulled or cancelled. There are void marriages and there are voidable marriages. If your marriage is void, it is regarded as never having taken place. If your marriage is voidable, it is considered to be a valid marriage until a decree of annulment is made.

In nullity of civil partnership law, there are only void civil partnerships. This means the civil partnerships are regarded as never having taken place.

Technically, if your civil partnership never took place, then there is no need to go to court to obtain a decree of annulment – you may simply act as though the civil partnership never happened. However, it is advisable to obtain a court order declaring that your civil partnership is annulled in order to remove any doubt. A decree of annulment can only be made if one of the parties to the civil partnership applies to the court for a decree of nullity.

Any person whom the court believes has sufficient standing to do so may also apply. If the court decides that your civil partnership is void, it will then declare that your civil partnership never existed.

In order to obtain an annulment (nullity) of your alleged civil partnership, you must make an application to the Circuit Court or the High Court.

To prove to the court that your civil partnership is void you must show one of the following grounds:

  • At the time of the registration of the civil partnership there was a lack of capacity. In other words, you or your partner was incapable of entering into a binding contract.

This may happen:

– where one of you was already validly married or in a civil partnership or

– where you were too closely related to each other or

– where you were of opposite biological sex or

– where one of you was under 18 years of age.

  • The formal requirements for the registration of a civil partnership were not followed. For example, you did not give due notice to the civil registrar.
  • At the time of the registration of the civil partnership, there was a lack of consent. In other words, you or your partner did not give free and fully informed consent to the civil partnership. This may be due to duress, (i.e., you were forced into the civil partnership), mistake, misrepresentation or fraud. It may also be due to the fact that you or your partner was suffering from a mental illness at that time.

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