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After How Many Years of Separation is a Marriage Annulled UK

 July 2023

In the UK, there is a common misconception that if you separate from your husband or wife for several years your marriage is automatically annulled.

In this article, our family law solicitors debunk this myth and provide insights into the process of marriage annulment in the UK.

Initial Discussion

This summary provides general information and does not constitute legal advice on any individual circumstances. 

For an initial discussion and a no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today by simply calling us on 01234 343134 or email us at and a member of our team will get back to you.

Marriage Annulment in the UK

Unlike divorce, which ends a valid marriage, an annulment declares a marriage void or voidable. It is best to speak to a family law solicitor for specialist legal advice before starting divorce proceedings in case it is in your best interests to have your marriage annulled.

Grounds for Annulment

To obtain a marriage annulment you must be able to show that the marriage was:

  • Void – you were not legally married or

  • Voidable – the marriage was legal, but it meets one of the voidable criteria

Separation is not a ground for an annulment so even if you have been separated for years you cannot use this as a basis for claiming that your marriage is voidable.

Void Marriages

If your marriage is void, it never existed in the eyes of the law. Although the marriage never existed legally you still need a conditional order of nullity if you would like to ask the courtto address financial issues.

Void marriages include situations where:

  • One or both of you were under 18 on the date of your marriage (or under 16 if the marriage took place before 27 February 2023)

  • One of you was already married or in a civil partnership

  • You are too closely related to your husband or wife so marriage is prohibited under UK law

Voidable Marriages

A voidable marriage is a legal marriage, but it is capable of annulment. The criteria to apply for an annulment for a voidable marriage are:

  • Non-consummation of the marriage

  • You did not consent to the marriage or were not capable of giving consent

  • The other person in the marriage had a sexually transmissible disease at the time of the marriage

  • Your spouse was pregnant by someone else at the date of marriage

  • Your spouse is transitioning to a different gender

With a voidable marriage, your marriage is valid until you obtain a  final order of nullity.

Starting Divorce or Annulment Proceedings

You can start annulment proceedings without having to wait until you have been married for a minimum period. With divorce proceedings, you need to have been married for 12 months before you can start divorce proceedings.

Although you may think that no-fault divorce proceedings may be the simplest option to end your marriage, it may be in your best interests to have your marriage annulled. For example, if there are religious or social considerations or financial reasons.

Our expert family law solicitors can look at your options and help you understand the pros and cons of different options and guide you towards the best course of action.

Financial Matters

On the grant of a conditional order of nullity, the court has the power to make financial orders.

How Can Fullers Help?

We understand that finding a solicitor that you feel understands your own specific situation can be a daunting task. So, you can book a free call back with us here.

We have also created a series of fixed-price consultation meetings with a full ‘no questions asked’ money-back guarantee promise.

For an initial discussion and a no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today by simply calling us on 01234 343134, filling in the contact form below, or emailing us at and a member of our team will get back to you.

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