The Women’s Charter provides 6 causes for an annulment of marriage in Singapore.
Nullity has been increasingly common amongst couples nowadays. S.106 of the Women’s Charter (“WC”) allows the Family Court to award a judgment of nullity if the marriage was voidable. The effect of a judgment of nullity is that the marriage is invalid from the date of the judgment (s.110(2) of the WC). The Women’s Charter provides 6 causes for an annulment of marriage in Singapore.
1. Non-consummation due to incapacity of either party
There are a important points to note with regard to this first cause:
a. Parties who have had sex before but are unable to do so after the solemnization of the marriage can invoke this first cause;
b. The Plaintiff can rely on his or her own capacity to apply for a judgment of nullity, not only the Defendant’s; andc. Even though one party is unable to have sex with his or her spouse but may do so with other people, this still constitutes incapacity. Impotence only needs to be directed towards the spouse in question.
2. Non-consummation due to the Defendant’s wilful refusal
The Plaintiff cannot rely on his or her own wilful refusal. For the Plaintiff to prove ‘wilful refusal’ by the Defendant, there has to be evidence of the Defendant persistently rejecting the Plaintiff’s initiation of sexual intercourse or making it almost impossible for parties to engage in the activity.
3. No valid consent by either party
The lack of valid consent can be attributed to:
a. Duress – where one party’s consent to the marriage was brought about by external influence such as force or coercion;
b. An operative mistake as to the nature of the proceedings that parties are going through (i.e. that parties are getting married) or the totality of the other party (e.g. gender and identity); or
c. Lack of capacity such that a party is incapable of understanding the nature and entailment of getting married.
4. Mental disorder
Mental disorder is defined in the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2008. It undermines a party’s consent because he or she cannot discharge his or her responsibilities required in a marriage.
5. The Defendant suffers from a sexually-transmitted disease
The Plaintiff must establish that the Defendant suffers from a sexually-transmitted disease in order to nullify the marriage. As a point of reference, the First Schedule of the Infectious Diseases Act provides a non-exhaustive list of diseases.
6. The wife is impregnated by another man
If at the time of marriage (not after), the wife is pregnant with another man’s child, the husband may nullify the marriage. Bars to judgment of nullity of voidable marriage.
However, you may not bring a claim of nullity under the following circumstances:
a. If you have assured and led your spouse to believe that you would not act upon your knowledge to bring about proceedings, such that if you do so subsequently, it would be unjust to your spouse;
b. If you are aware of the facts at the time of the marriage but still went ahead with it.
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