family law Resources

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Bars to a Decree

Where a marriage is voidable (as opposed to void ab initio), the court will refuse a decree of nullity if one of three "bars" exists.

A petition is barred by s.13(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 if the respondent can show that the petitioner, knowing the marriage to be voidable, behaved in such a way as to make the respondent think he would not petition for an annulment, and that it would now be unjust to the respondent to grant the annulment sought.

A petition based on lack of consent, mental illness, venereal disease, or W's pregnancy by another man is barred by s.13(2) if brought more than three years after the marriage, subject to the court's discretion to extend this period where the petitioner has been under a mental disability during that time.

A petition based on venereal disease or W's pregnancy by another man is barred by s.13(3) unless the petitioner can show that he was ignorant of the relevant facts at the time of the marriage.