The short answer is: no. You must be married for a year and meet the criteria explained in our divorce process blog before you can get divorced in the UK. However, there are other ways to get divorced before a year of marriage.
You may have heard of annulment through the press as several celebrities have had their marriages annulled. Perhaps the most high profile is Britney Spears. The key difference between an annulment and a divorce is that you can apply for an annulment at any time after the wedding. Some people chose to have an annulment instead of a divorce for religious reasons. However, you need to prove the marriage was not valid in the first place, or that it is defective for one of the following reasons:
- you are closely related
- one of you was under 16 at the time of marriage
- one of you was already married or in a civil partnership
- the marriage has not been consummated i.e. you haven’t had sex since the wedding (doesn’t apply for same sex couples)
- you didn’t properly consent to the marriage – e.g. you were drunk or forced into it
- the other person had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- the woman was pregnant by another man when you got married
To annul a marriage you need to send a ‘nullity’ petition to the court citing at least one of the above reasons. The court will then seek consent from your spouse. However, if you souse does not consent, you can apply for a Decree Nisi. Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi is issued you can apply for a Decree Absolute, which will formally end your marriage.
Much like a divorce you can apply for financial relief to resolve financial issues arising from the annulment, such as child care, property etc.
A judicial separation, also known as judicial separation, allows you to live apart without ending a marriage or civil partnership. Some people choose to do this because:
- you have been married less than a year and do not qualify for an annulment
- you have religious reasons against divorce
- you want time and space to work out if you want to end the marriage
A lot of people choose to live apart before deciding to get divorce without getting a judicial separation. However, with a judicial separation, you can obtain court orders regarding your finances and children and become officially separated.
The judicial separation process is very similar to the annulment and divorce process, but with only one decree. You must send a separation petition to the court but it is not necessary to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. A Decree pronouncing judicial separation is then issued.
Again, like a divorce you can apply for financial relief to resolve financial issues arising from the judicial separation, such as child care, property etc.
If you’re considering annulment or judicial separation and have any questions please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.