Family law: Marriage


Requirements of a valid marriage

Both aged 16 or over: Must be over 16. Anyone marrying under the age of 16 is not legally married. Ages 16-17 must get consent from a parent OR magistrate. Set out by: Age of marriages act 1929

No close blood relationship: Cannot marry people within 2 degrees of blood relation (e.g mother/grandmother/sister/aunt/neice etc). This is to reduce risk of birth of malformed children. This is set out by: Marriage (Prohibited degrees of relationship) act 1986

Single: Must not be married to anyone else at the time of the ceremony. Otherwise will be charged with Bigamy under offences against the persons act. A case example of this is R v Tolson where a woman thought her husband had died at sea so she remarried only to find out he was still alive.

One man and one woman:(prior to same-sex marriage act 2013) this law has now changed, but prior to 2013, anyone who married someone of the same sex (as stated on birth certificate regardless of preferred gender) would not have a valid marriage. e.g Corbett v Corbett. A man had a sex change to become a woman and could not marry a man due to the fact that she was still a man on her birth certificate.

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Void marriages and formalities

A Void marriage is a marriage that is considered to have 'never existed' even though there was a ceremony of marriage. This occurs when one of the requirements of a valid marriage did not exist at the time of the ceremony. (This also occurs when a formality for a valid marriage does not occur):

1. Marriage is conducted by an authoried person.                                                                       2. Ceremony takes place in an authorised building.                                                                   3. Wedding is held at the correct times (Between 8am - 6pm)                                                    4. Preliminary procedures (e.g Banns in church of england ceremonies) are followed,

Religious ceremonies: Superintendant registrar's certificate. Conducted by an authorised person. Correct times. Two witnesses. Authorised building (must be open to the public) - exception Jews/ Quakers.

Civil ceremonies: Superintendant registrars certificate. Licenced building. Correct times. 2 witnesses. Open to the public. 

When marrying a non-UK citizen. They must give 7 days notice and the non-UK citizen must have lived in the uk for 15 days, (total of 22 days) 

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Voidable marriages

A voidable marriage is a marriage which was valid at the time of the ceremony but can be annulled (an annullment is not a divorce) due to one of the following reasons:          

1. Non connsumation of marriage - If the couple have not had willful sexual intercourse within 6 months of the marriage.

2. Lack of consent - If either party did not consent to the marriage at the time due to either duress or mistake (due to someone lacking soundness of mind at the time of the ceremony). This was seen in the case Hirani v Hirani where a woman was forced by her parents into marrying someone. (another case example of this is valier v valier

3. Mental illness - where either party is suffering from a mental illness making them unfit for marriage this is set out under the mental health act

4. STI/STD - Where at the time of the ceremony, either party was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease the other party wasn't aware of. 

5. Pregnancy - If the woman was pregnant with the child of another man at the time of the ceremony.                            (an annullment must be made within 3 years of the marriage.)

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