ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE

WHAT IS ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE?

Annulment refers to the legal procedure of rendering a marriage as null and void. In a nutshell, it cancels or annuls a marriage by legally declaring that it was invalid or never existed in the first place. Annulment is different from divorce, which is the dissolution or termination of a legally valid marriage, with both parties returning to single status and having an ability to remarry..

ANNULMENT PROCESS IN SINGAPORE

As per the Women’s Charter, the annulment process begins when one party (plaintiff) files a writ of nullity along with a statement of particulars that declare the legal grounds for the annulment of marriage with the spouse (defendant). An annulment can only be filed within three years from the date of marriage.

A court attendance is typically mandatory for the plaintiff, though the hearing should only last up to 10 minutes. Similar to divorce, an annulment may be contested or uncontested, with the latter taking only 4 to 6 months to be made final.

WHEN IS A MARRIAGE CONSIDERED VOID?

A marriage is considered null and void when it fails to meet the requirements of a valid or legal marriage according to Singapore law. Based on Section 105 of the Women’s Charter, a marriage is void under the following circumstance:

  • Marriages between Muslims registered or solemnized under civil law and not under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA)
  • Either party is already married under any law, religion or custom
  • Either party is below 18 years of age and not granted special authorization for marriage by the Ministry of Social Affairs
  • Parties to the marriage are closely related or within the prohibited degrees of kinship.
  • Marriage was not properly solemnized according to the law
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Marriage was celebrated outside Singapore, and invalidated for lack of capacity or by the law of the place the marriage was celebrated

WHEN IS A MARRIAGE VOIDABLE?

A voidable marriage refers to a valid marriage that can be legally declared as invalid, provided certain circumstances are met. It is different from a void marriage in which the marriage is void from the very beginning. According to Section 106 of the Women’s Charter, a marriage is voidable under these circumstances:

  • Marriage has not been consummated due to either party’s incapacity to do so
  • Marriage has not been consummated due to either party’s willful refusal
  • Marriage was conducted without either party’s valid consent, with consent given under duress, mistake or mental disorder
  • Either party consented to the marriage but is found to suffer from a mental disorder that deems him or her unfit for marriage
  • The wife was already pregnant by another man at the time of marriage
  • Either party is suffering from any sexually transmitted disease or infection at the time of marriage

WHEN CAN THE COURT REFUSE TO GRANT AN ANNULMENT IN SINGAPORE?

There are two situations when the Court can deny a petition for annulment:

  • The plaintiff fails to provide legal grounds or sufficient evidence for annulment.
  • The annulment would be unjust to the spouse (defendant). This usually applies when the plaintiff knowingly entered into the marriage while being aware that the marriage is void or voidable, but behaved in a way to lead the defendant to believe that the plaintiff will not seek an annulment.

Annulment is similar to divorce in that it can be a stressful and tedious procedure, but with the assistance of a divorce lawyer, the process can become much more manageable for all parties involved.

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Email: godwin@godwincampos.com.sg
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