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Annulment of Marriage

What are the grounds for Nullity?
A court may grant a decree of nullity on the following grounds:

1. Lack of capacity – the people were not capable of marrying each other.
For example:
- one person was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage
- the people were of the same sex
- one person was under the age of 18 and did not have court permission.

2. Did not observe certain formalities
The people did not comply with a formal requirement relating to the ceremony. For example, persons planning to marry in Ireland must give the Register of Marriages three months notice of their intention to wed.

3. Absence of consent
One of the people involved did not give a full, free and informed consent.

For example:
- a person gave their consent to the marriage under duress, for example, serious threats.
- a person gave their consent to the marriage under influence, for example, pressure imposed by a parent.
- a person did not intend at the time of the marriage to fulfil a fundamental part of the contract, for example, one person intended not to have sexual relations with the other and this had not been agreed between them
- a person was insane at the time of the marriage and so was not capable of consenting to the marriage

4. Impotence
One of the people is unable to perform the complete sexual act with the other person. It is necessary to establish psychological or physical causes of impotence which are incurable, at least with regard to the third person.

5. Inability to form and sustain a normal marital relationship
This might be established where for example,
- one person, unknown to the other, was suffering from manic depression or schizophrenia at the time of the marriage.
- one person suffered from extreme immaturity at the time of the marriage
- one person to the marriage was homosexual

What is the effect of a decree of nullity being granted?
- the people are free to marry
- neither person can claim maintenance as a spouse from the other person
- the decree does not affect the rights of the people’ dependent children
- neither person can claim a legal right to share in the estate of the other person

Court orders for Protection from Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can create a very difficult situation in a family home or in any domestic relationship. Domestic violence would include physical, sexual or psychological violence which threatens the safety or welfare of family members. It also covers people in other domestic relationships.

There are several forms of protection available under current laws; Safety Order, Barring Order, Protection order.