“Single” instead of “Divorcee”
Any husband or wife may file a claim for judgment of nullity asking for the Court to declare the marriage to be made null and void. The party’s marital status after nullity of marriage has been granted, is that of a “single” and not a “divorcee”.
A marriage may be void on the grounds of:
- non fulfillment of the formal requirements – for example, marriage was not solemnized.
- non-fulfillment of the substantive requirements – for example, one party lacked the capacity to be married due to the party being a married person.
Voiding a Marriage
A marriage may be voidable on grounds of any one of the following:
- marriage not consummated owing to the incapacity of either party to consummate it.
- marriage not consummated owing to the willful refusal of the Defendant to consummate it.
- either party not validly consenting to the marriage, whether as a consequence of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise.
- either party, although capable of giving a valid consent, suffering (whether continuously or intermittently) from a mental disorder so as to be unfit for marriage.
- at the time of marriage, the Defendant suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form.
- at the time of marriage, the wife being pregnant by some person other than the husband.
A claim that a marriage is voidable may not succeed if the Defendant shows the Court that the Plaintiff, knowing that it was open to him/her to have the marriage avoided, so conducted himself/herself to lead the Defendant to reasonably believe that he/she would not seek to do so. Any party claiming for nullity for the 4th, 5th and 6th grounds above must file the claim within three (3) years from the date of marriage.
Nullity of Marriage is not Divorce
Parties considering filing for nullity of marriage should take note that a nullity is different from a divorce.
In the case when the parties jointly purchased a HDB flat based on their marital relationship being husband and wife, the HDB requires the parties to surrender the HDB flat if the marriage is rendered null and void by the Court.
Any request for retention of the HDB flat in the sole name of one party after the nullity, is subject to HDB’s approval.
Ng Pui Khim is a senior lawyer with over 20 years of private practice experience focusing on divorces (family and matrimonial law), real estate (conveyancing practice), wills and succession law.
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