Who can get divorced

You can get divorced in England or Wales if all of the following are true:

  • You’ve been married for over a year
  • Your relationship has permanently broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
  • The UK is your permanent home, or the permanent home of your husband or wife

Marriage annulments

Annulment, sometimes known as nullity, is a different way of ending a marriage. Unlike divorce, you can apply for annulment in the first year of your marriage or any time after.
You or your spouse must have either lived in England or Wales for at least a year or had a permanent home in England or Wales for at least six months.
You’ll need to prove that the marriage:

  • Was never legally valid (‘void’)
  • Was legally valid, but meets one of the reasons that makes it ‘voidable’

‘Void’ marriages

You can annul a marriage if it was not legally valid in the first place, for example:

  • You’re closely related to the person you married
  • One or both of you were under 16
  • One of you was already married or in a civil partnership

If a marriage was never legally valid, the law says that it never existed.
However, you may need legal paperwork (a ‘decree of nullity’) to prove this if you want to get married again.

Free guide to divorce

Everything you need to know about divorce, in one place. Download our free guide which covers all the main questions around divorce.

Is your marriage voidable?

You can annul a marriage for a number of reasons, such as:

  • It was not consummated (this does not apply for same sex couples)
  • You did not properly consent to the marriage (you were forced into it)
  • The other person had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
  • Your spouse was pregnant by someone else when you got married
  • One spouse is in the process of transitioning to a different gender

As with divorce, your marriage legally exists until you annul it using one of these reasons.

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