Ending a marriage: How is annulment different from divorce?

Ending a marriage: How is annulment different from divorce?
11 Oct 2021

For couples who have been married for a period of less than 3 years, both parties will be unable to apply for divorce in Singapore. In such cases, you may consider opting for an annulment instead.

Where a divorce dissolves the marriage under the 4 legal grounds, an annulment does the same, only that your marital status will return to “single”. This means that the marriage will be rendered void or voidable, declaring that the marriage never happened from a legal perspective. 

Void and Voidable Marriage  

1. Void marriage

For starters, a void marriage is automatically annulled and was never valid in the first place. To do so, you will need to provide evidence that the marriage did not meet the legal requirements of a valid marriage from the start. This may include reasons where:

  • The marriage involved parties that are closely related to each other 
  • One party remains legally married to someone else
  • Either party is underaged
  • The marriage was not properly solemnised by the Registrar
  • Both parties are Muslims registered under the Women’s Charter

It is, however, more common in Singapore to claim that a marriage is voidable.

2. Voidable marriage

A voidable marriage, on the other hand, will continue as if valid until it is annulled by a Judgement of Nullity. You will also be required to prove your claims for the grounds of annulment such as if the marriage is not consummated either because a party wilfully refuses or is unable to do so. Should the latter be the case, a medical report will be necessary. Your divorce attorney may also guide you through the other reasons that would make a marriage voidable in Singapore, which includes:

  • The lack of valid consent at the time of marriage
  • Where the wife was pregnant by another man

That being said, be sure to provide concrete evidence when seeking an annulment or it may be deemed as false claims. Reported in December 2020, a man seeking an annulment lied in a court statement on the pretext of his wife having wilfully refused to consummate the union. As a result, he was given one week of jail for his dishonesty.

Process of annulment

Should you decide to go by the annulment route, either you or your spouse may file a Writ of Nullity to commence proceedings. This will also determine the Plaintiff and Defendant of the case. You will also need to submit a Statement of claim, Statement of particulars, proposed and agreed parenting plan as well as matrimonial property plan. You may access the mentioned documents via the Family Justice Courts website.

If things go as planned, the court will grant an Interim Judgement. Moving forward, the annulment procedure is similar to that of divorce proceedings. You will need to come to an agreement for ancillary matters through a Draft Consent Order. Once the Court grants the Judgement of Nullity, the marriage will be officially dissolved. Do note that while you are considered single, children born in the marriage will be recognised as legitimate.

If you are an expatriate in Singapore, find out more about the process of international divorce.

Get the Professional Assurance of a Divorce Law Firm

If you are considering an annulment, it is wise to consult with a family law attorney before choosing this path so you know exactly what it entails. An experienced separation lawyer can advise you on whether you should file for annulment or divorce in Singapore.

Well-versed in the various aspects of family law, our lawyers will ensure that your rights are protected and address all concerns you may have throughout the separation. Book a consultation to speak with us today.

For more information, please contact our Business Development Manager, Ricky Soetikno, at [email protected].