What is an annulment?
Annulment is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage between a man and a woman. The legal effect of annulling a marriage is that the marriage is completely erased as though it technically never existed and was never valid.
Grounds for an Annulment of Marriage
Either party to the marriage (at any time after the ceremony of marriage) can initiate an application for an annulment of marriage at the Supreme Court of Jamaica by the filing of a Petition for Nullity of Marriage pursuant to Rule 76.4 (3) of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2002.
The party initiating the annulment must prove that he or sheTop of FormBottom of Form has the grounds to. The grounds for an annulment of a marriage in Jamaica are very strict and the said statutory grounds for annulment are outlined in Section 4 of the Matrimonial Causes Act.
Section 4 of the Matrimonial Causes Act provides that Decrees of Nullity of marriage may be pronounced by the Court on the ground that the marriage is void for any of the following reasons:-
- One of the parties to the marriage had a husband or wife living at the time when the parties went through a ceremony of marriage. This would of course be the offence of bigamy which is a crime.
- The marriage was void under the provisions of the Marriage Act or any laws relating to marriage in force for the time being in Jamaica. The marriage may be void under the provisions of the marriage act if, for example, the marriage was solemnized by a person who is not a marriage officer and both parties to the marriage knew this to be the case.
- In the case of marriages celebrated on or after the 1st day of February 1989, the consent of either party to the marriage was not a valid consent because:
- It was obtained by duress or fraud; or
- One party was mistaken as to the identity of the other party or the nature of the ceremony performed; or
- One party was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony at the time of the marriage.
- The parties to the marriage were of the same sex at the time of the marriage.
Advantages of an Annulment
- The marriage is completely erased as though it technically never existed and was never valid.
- Unlike a divorce whereby you generally must have been married for at least two (2) years and separated from your wife or husband for at least one (1) year before the Court has jurisdiction, with an Annulment there is no such wait period. Either party to the marriage can initiate annulment proceeding at any time after the ceremony of marriage.
Disadvantages of an Annulment
- Establishing the grounds for an Annulment is generally more difficult than the grounds for a divorce. The ground for obtaining a divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
- An annulment of marriage application requires a hearing before a Judge of a Supreme Court. As such it is generally more expensive than a divorce which may be done on paper, that is, by filing documents at different stages of the proceedings without the necessity of a hearing.
AUTHOR: Blair Foreman & Co., Attorneys-at-Law
Copyright Blair Foreman & Co.