Void or Voidable Marriages

What is a Void or Voidable Marriage?..

People talk about Getting divorces or getting an Annulment, and some people mention a Void or Voidable Marriage, so what is the difference between these two?

The basic premise is:

Void Marriage

A void marriage is a marriage that is void and invalid from its very beginning.

Voidable Marriage

A voidable marriage is a legal marriage that can be cancelled at the option of one of the parties and it is subject to cancellation if contested in court.

So… If it was not legal to get married in the first place, it must be a VOID marriage.

What would make a marriage not legal and therefore Void.

One party being already married is probably the most common cause.

However, if Bigamy was not illegal in the place of marriage, then this would not be a valid reason.

Definition from the Cornell University Law School legal pages:

Voidable marriage
A marriage that is valid until declared invalid.

Void marriage
A marriage that was for some reason never valid from the start and cannot be made valid.



from: http://wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca/index.php/Marriage_%26_Married_Spouses

Void marriages

A marriage that is void ab initio, void “from the beginning,” is void as if it had never been celebrated. In general, an application to the court is not required to dissolve a marriage that is void ab initio since such marriages are void from the get-go. However, you may have to apply for a declaration that your marriage is void if someone is making a claim against you based on the fact that you are supposed to be married.

A marriage will be void ab initio if:

  • one or both spouses were seven years old or younger (the absolute minimum age required to consent to marry under the old common law),
  • the spouses were within the prohibited degree of relatedness,
  • one or both of the spouses did not have the mental capacity to marry, or
  • one or both of the spouses were already married at the time of the marriage.

Voidable marriages

A voidable marriage is a marriage that is potentially void but remains valid until an application is made to the court for an annulment, a declaration that the marriage is void. A marriage may be invalid and annulled if:

  • the spouses were over seven years of age, but a female spouse was under the age of 12 or a male spouse was under the age of 14 (the old common-law ages of puberty),
  • one or both of the spouses did not consent to the marriage or were under duress or some other kind of coercion
  • when they married,
  • a male spouse is impotent or a female spouse is sterile going into the marriage,
  • the marriage cannot be consummated,
  • the marriage was a sham, or
  • one or both of the spouses agreed to marry as a result of fraud or misrepresentation.

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