Both annulment and divorce are ways to legally end a marriage. There are however a number of key differences between the two.
With a divorce, you have to wait until you have been married for at least 1 year before being able to apply. You also have to satisfy the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and one of 5 facts can be proven, which are:-
- Adultery (with someone of the opposite sex)
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation with consent
- Five years’ separation
An annulment can be applied for earlier than 1 year after the date of marriage, however the longer you wait after the date of marriage you might have to prove to the Court why there has been a delay. You also have to prove that the marriage was not valid, using one of two options:-
- A void marriage – in situations where the marriage itself is not legally valid. This may be for example because the parties to the marriage are closely related, one or both parties were under 16 at the time, or one of the parties was already married at the time. If the marriage is considered void, it is as if it never happened.
- A voidable marriage – in situations where the marriage was not consummated, one party did not properly consent to the marriage, one party had a sexually transmitted disease at the time of the marriage, or the woman was pregnant by another man on the date of the marriage. In any one of these situations, you may be able to apply to annul the marriage.