FAQs: Annulment of civil partnerships


What is an annulment?

If something is annulled, it means that it is declared never to have existed. This is different to something being terminated, in which case it is said to have existed but subsequently come to an end. The most obvious example of the difference between the two is an annulment versus a divorce.

Can civil partnerships be annulled?

Just as marriages can be annulled, so too can civil partnerships. However, as with marriages, civil partnerships can only be annulled under certain circumstances as set out under the law.

When can a civil partnership be annulled?

A civil partnership can be annulled if it was not validly entered into. For a civil partnership to be validly entered into, certain conditions must be met. Both partners must be a minimum of 16 years of age, or those aged 16 or 17 years must have written consent from their parents or legal guardians, or permission from a court. Neither partner can be already in a civil partnership or married. The partners cannot be blood relatives. If any of these requirements are not met, the civil partnership may be annulled.

How is a civil partnership annulled?

To get a civil partnership annulled, one or both of the partners must apply to the court for an annulment. The court will need to be provided with evidence to demonstrate that the civil partnership was not validly entered into. The court will either say that the civil partnership is void, meaning that it in effect never existed; or that it is voidable, meaning that it was legal at the time it was registered but it is not legal any longer.

Is there a timeframe in which an annulment must be obtained?

An annulment must be applied for within three years of the date it was registered. There are some exceptions to this rule, in which case the annulment can be applied for out of time.

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