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Matrimonial Causes (Northern Ireland) Order 1978

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Commencement Orders

This section lists the commencement orders yet to be applied to the whole Order. These effects are included in this view as they may be (but won’t necessarily be) relevant to the specific provision that you are viewing. Where applicable the commencement orders are listed under two headings, firstly those that bring some part of the Order you are viewing into force and secondly, those that bring into force legislation that affects some part of the legislation you are viewing. If you are viewing a prospective version or there is a prospective version available there may be commencement orders listed here that are relevant to the provision you are viewing.

Commencement Orders bringing legislation that affects this Order into force:

NullityN.I.

Grounds on which a marriage is voidN.I.

13.—(1) A marriage celebrated after the commencement of this Article shall be void on the following grounds only, that is to say—

(a)that the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship;

(b)that it is not a valid marriage under the provisions of the Age of Marriage Act (Northern Ireland) 1951 [1951 c.25] (persons under 16);

(c)that it is not a valid marriage by reason of non-compliance with any statutory provision or rule of law governing the formation of marriage;

(d)that at the time of the marriage either party was already lawfully married[F1 or a civil partner];

(e)that the parties are not respectively male and female;

(f)in the case of a polygamous marriage entered into outside Northern Ireland, that either party was at the time of the marriage domiciled in Northern Ireland.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)( f) a marriage[F2 is not polygamous if] at its inception neither party has any spouse additional to the other.

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Grounds on which a marriage is voidableN.I.

14.  A marriage celebrated after the commencement of this Article shall be voidable on the following grounds only, that is to say—

(a)that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity of either party to consummate it;

(b)that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the respondent to consummate it;

(c)that either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress, mistake or unsoundness of mind or otherwise;

(d)that at the time of the marriage either party, though capable of giving a valid consent, was suffering (whether continuously or intermittently) from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health[F3 (Northern Ireland) Order 1986] of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfitted for marriage;

(e)that at the time of the marriage the respondent was suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form;

(f)that at the time of the marriage the respondent was pregnant by some person other than the petitioner.

[F4(g)that an interim gender recognition certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 has, after the time of the marriage, been issued to either party to the marriage;]

[F4(h)that the respondent is a person whose gender at the time of the marriage had become the acquired gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.]

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Jurisdiction of court, and form of order, etc., in nullity proceedingsN.I.

15.—(1) The court has jurisdiction to grant a decree of nullity—

(a)of a marriage which is void; or

(b)on the petition of a party to the marriage, of a marriage which is voidable.

(2) Articles 3(6), 10 and 11 shall apply in relation to proceedings for nullity of marriage as if for any reference in those provisions to divorce there were substituted a reference to nullity of marriage.

Bars to relief where marriage is voidableN.I.

16.—(1) The court shall not, in proceedings instituted after the commencement of this Article, grant a decree of nullity on the ground that a marriage is voidable if the respondent satisfies the court—

(a)that the petitioner, with knowledge that it was open to him to have the marriage avoided, so conducted himself in relation to the respondent as to lead the respondent reasonably to believe that he would not seek to do so; and

(b)that it would be unjust to the respondent to grant the decree.

[F5(2) Without prejudice to paragraph (1), the court shall not grant a decree of nullity by virtue of Article 14 on the grounds mentioned in paragraph (c), (d), (e)[F6,(f) or (h)] of that Article unless—

(a)it is satisfied that proceedings were instituted within the period of three years from the date of the marriage, or

(b)leave for the institution of proceedings after the expiration of that period has been granted under paragraph (4).]

[F6(2A) Without prejudice to paragraph (1), the court shall not grant a decree of nullity by virtue of article 14 on the ground mentioned in paragraph (g) of that Article unless it is satisfied that proceedings were instituted within the period of six months from the date of issue of the interim gender recognition certificate.]

(3) Without prejudice to paragraphs (1) and (2), the court shall not grant a decree of nullity by virtue of Article 14 on the grounds mentioned in paragraph ( e)[F6,(f) or (h)] of that Article unless it is satisfied that the petitioner was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the facts alleged.

[F5(4) In the case of proceedings for the grant of a decree of nullity by virtue of Article 14 on the grounds mentioned in paragraph (c), (d), (e)[F6,(f) or (h)] of that Article, a judge of the court may, on an application made to him, grant leave for the institution of proceedings after the expiration of the period of three years from the date of the marriage if—

(a)he is satisfied that the petitioner has at some time during that period suffered from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986; and

(b)he considers that in all the circumstances of the case it would be just to grant leave for the institution of proceedings.

(5) An application for leave under paragraph (4) may by made after the expiration of the period of three years from the date of the marriage.]

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Marriages governed by foreign law or celebrated abroad under certain enactments or under common lawN.I.

17.—(1) [F7Subject to paragraph (3)] where, apart from this Order, any matter affecting the validity of a marriage would fall to be determined (in accordance with the rules of private international law) by reference to the law of a country other than Northern Ireland, nothing in Article 13, 14 or 16(1) shall—

(a)preclude the determination of that matter as aforesaid; or

(b)require the application to the marriage of the grounds or bar there mentioned except so far as applicable in accordance with those rules.

(2) In the case of a marriage which purports to have been celebrated under the Foreign Marriage Acts 1892 to 1947 or has taken place outside Northern Ireland and purports to be a marriage under common law, Article 13 is without prejudice to any ground on which the marriage may be void under those Acts or, as the case may be, by virtue of the rules governing the celebration of marriages outside Northern Ireland under common law.

[F7(3) No marriage is to be treated as valid by virtue of paragraph (1) if, at the time when it purports to have been celebrated, either party was already a civil partner.]

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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Effect of decree of nullity in case of voidable marriageN.I.

18.  A decree of nullity granted after the commencement of this Article in respect of a voidable marriage shall operate to annul the marriage only as respects any time after the decree has been made absolute, and the marriage shall, notwithstanding the decree, be treated as if it had existed up to that time.

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