In Ghana, the annulment of marriage is a legal process deeply rooted in the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1971 (Act 367), and the Marriages Act, 1884-1985, CAP 127. Understanding the grounds for annulment is crucial for those seeking to nullify a marriage based on statutory provisions.
Void vs. Voidable Marriages
Lord Greene, MR’s distinction between void and voidable marriages sets the foundation. A void marriage is treated as if it never happened, while a voidable marriage is valid until declared otherwise by a court.
Grounds for Declaring Marriages Void
1. Existing Lawful Marriage: A subsequent marriage is void if either party is lawfully married to another person at the time of celebration, as stated in section 74 of the Marriages Act.
2. Prohibited Decree of Consanguinity and Affinity: Marriage can be void on the basis of blood relation (consanguinity) or marriage relation (affinity), according to section 74 of the Marriages Act.
3. Formal Defects: Void marriages result from formal defects like celebrating in an unauthorized place, lack of required certificates, solemnization by an unauthorized person, or marriage under a false name.
4. Marriage Age and Consent: If either party is below marriageable age (21 years) without proper consent, the marriage is null and void under section 59 of the Marriages Act.
Grounds for Declaring Marriages Voidable
Section 13(2) of Act 367 outlines grounds for voidable marriages, including:
1. Non-Consummation: A marriage may be voidable if not consummated due to the willful refusal of either party.
2. Unsound Mind: If either party was of unsound mind at the time of marriage or subject to recurrent insanity, the marriage is voidable.
3. Pregnancy by Another Person: Marriage becomes voidable if the respondent was pregnant by someone other than the petitioner at the time of marriage.
4. Incurable Venereal Disease: Voidability arises if the respondent had an incurable venereal disease in a communicable form at the time of marriage.
Restrictions on Voidable Marriages
For grounds (b), (c), and (d) mentioned above, the court won’t grant annulment unless:
– The petitioner was ignorant of the facts making the marriage voidable.
– Proceedings were initiated within one year from the marriage date.
– Marital intercourse hasn’t occurred since the petitioner discovered the voidable facts.
Children of Annulled Marriages
Section 14 of Act 367 stipulates that children of parties to an annulled marriage retain the same status and rights as if the marriage were dissolved.
Void vs. Voidable Marriages: Differences
– A void marriage is treated as if it never happened, while a voidable marriage is valid until declared otherwise by the court.
– Void marriages can be addressed after the parties’ death, while voidable marriages can only be challenged during the parties’ lifetime.
– Any person affected by a void marriage can initiate an annulment proceeding, while only a party to a voidable marriage can bring annulment proceedings.
The legal notice emphasizes that the contents of the publication are for reference purposes only, and specific legal advice should be sought based on individual circumstances.
Please consult legal professionals for the most accurate and up-to-date advice tailored to your specific situation.
About the Contributor
Mr. David Yaw Danquah, Esq., is the founder and Managing Partner of Legalstone Solicitors, a leading law firm in Ghana specializing in Corporate and Commercial, Mining and Infrastructure, Family Law, Debt Recovery and Restructuring, Real Estate, Construction Law, and Commercial Arbitration.