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How to Void a Marriage

There are instances when a couple wants to dissolve a marriage but due to situations, may not want to go through a divorce procedure. These couples may then be looking at alternative routes, such as applying for an annulment, in which case they are effectively voiding the marriage.

However, before they can even consider such an option, there is a need to check the validity of such marriage. In Singapore, a marriage is considered invalid under the following circumstances:

  • One or both partners have more than one spouse at any one time, i.e. the practice of polygamy
  • One or both parties have not reached majority age of 18 and have not been granted special marriage licences
  • Both parties are closely related, e.g. marrying a sibling, an uncle, or aunt
  • Same sex marriages
  • Marriage not solemnised by an authorised person and not granted a valid marriage license

In the above cases, there is thus no necessity to go through a divorce process as parties are not deemed to have been married in the eyes of the law.

Even so, a lawyer may advise couples in such situations to still go ahead and acquire a judgement of nullity as it may provide some practical options for the parties such as applying for matrimonial settlements. It will also give parties the peace of mind that the marriage has been declared null and void by the court.

What then is a voidable marriage? A voidable marriage is one which, although considered legal in the eyes of the law, contains valid flaws that makes it voidable, such as:

  • Marriage that has not been consummated via sexual intercourse, either due to physical or mental incapability of either party
  • One of the parties wilfully refuses to consummate the marriage
  • One of the parties entered into the marriage without proper consent, e.g. they were threatened or coerced
  • One of the parties is mentally unfit or suffering from mental illness at the time of entering into the marriage
  • Spouse entered into marriage whilst already infected with a communicable venereal disease
  • The wife was already pregnant with another man’s child when entering into the marriage

In these cases, both parties have the option of remaining in the marriage. However, should one or both of them decide that they want to terminate the marriage, there is the option of applying to have the marriage annulled rather than go through a divorce procedure.

In order to have the marriage annulled, they then have to engage the services of a lawyer who will file a writ to obtain a judgement of nullity from the family court.

If any children were born within the time frame of the marriage, and before the marriage was annulled, they are considered legitimate children of the marriage.