What are the grounds and procedures for seeking a marriage annulment

What Are The Reasons And Steps In Ghana For Seeking To Annul A Mariage?

Acheampong & Associates

Acheampong & Associates

Expert immigration, corporate, and family law firm in Ghana with a client-centered approach, established in 2015.

Introduction to The Reasons And Steps In Ghana For Seeking To Annul A Marriage?

A person may file a petition for their marriage to be annulled on the grounds that the marriage is by law void or voidable. A decree of nullity, once issued, puts the parties back to their original status prior to the marriage. In fact, the implication is that the marriage never existed at all. In Ghana, annulment proceedings are governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act, of 1971 (Act 367) and Marriages Act, of 1884 (Cap 127). 

Grounds for Annulment

A marriage is deemed void if the grounds upon which it was pronounced satisfy the court to declare it as such, whereas a voidable marriage may be deemed valid but certain conditions present that are proved or disproven may affect the status of the marriage either for its subsistence, dissolution, or annulment.

A court will dismiss the action if the grounds of the argument are subjective and not grounded in law.

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act, a person can ask the court to declare a marriage to be void or voidable for any of the following reasons: 

  1. That the marriage has not been consummated owing to the willful refusal of the other party to consummate it or
  2. That at the time of the marriage either party to the marriage was of unsound mind or subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or
  3. That the respondent was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some other person other than the petitioner or
  4. That the other party at the time of the marriage was suffering from an incurable venereal disease in a communicable form.

When a petition for annulment is based on a respondent’s willful refusal to consummate the marriage, either party may apply to the court for a medical examination to be conducted, though the court may order one on its own.  This application may also be made in proceedings in which a medical examination may be required to prove the claim.

However, where a medical examination is ordered and a party fails or refuses to present himself or herself for the process, the court based on this fact may make an order or give direction as it deems fit. 

Other grounds for annulment

As indicated earlier, unless the grounds of annulment are objectively argued on the back of the law, the court would not hesitate to dismiss the ground(s) of the argument or the action in its entirety. A person may also come under the Marriages Act to petition the court to annul a marriage on the grounds listed below:

  1. That at the time of the marriage, either party was a party to a previous marriage that has not been dissolved
  2. That the consent for marriage was not obtained in the case of a party to a marriage who has not attained the age of 21 at the time of the marriage.
  3. The marriage was contracted with a relative resulting in an incestuous marriage

In addition to the grounds equivocally provided by the various Acts as stated above, there are statutory provisions that invalidate the existence of a marriage on the basis of procedural failures or violation of general principles in law that vitiates a contractual relationship such as marriage. Below are some of these grounds: 

  1. Failure to celebrate a marriage at an unlicensed venue or where a marriage is solemnized by a person who is not a recognized minister of the religious denomination or registrar of marriages 
  2. Failure to marry without the Registrar’s certificate of notice or marriage officer’s certificate of notice or special license
  3. Failure to publish the banns of marriage in the community where the parties reside and at the place of worship of the religious denomination where the persons belong
  4. Failure to publish banns audibly in English and vernacular before the congregation of the person’s place of worship of religious denomination
  5. Failure to celebrate the marriage within three months from the date of the notice of the marriage. With respect to this requirement, the Act provides that where the marriage does not take place within three months from the date of the notice, the notice and all proceedings consequent on the notice are void.
  6. That the consent to marry was obtained by fraud
  7. At the time of the marriage, the man was impotent and same was not known to the petitioner.

As indicated earlier, the courts, irrespective of any valid ground would look for any circumstance in the case that points towards the possibility to reconciliation and would make orders that it deems fit. When it is clear that a party is about to be granted an annulment order, the court will ensure that it investigates every allegation and orders for any medical examination that is required, whether on application by either party or on the court’s own volition.

Restrictions

The court will not grant a decree of nullity where a person who intends to rely on the underlisted grounds for annulment does not commence the proceedings within a year from the date of the marriage.

  •  That at the time of the marriage either party to the marriage was of unsound mind or subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or
  • That the respondent was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some other person other than the petitioner or
  • That the other party at the time of the marriage was suffering from an incurable venereal disease in a communicable form.

 In the same way, a couple shouldn’t have slept together after the petitioner found out about the facts that made the marriage invalid.that, And it is a requirement for the petitioner to satisfy that at the time of marriage,iage he/she was ignorant of the facts forming the basis for the annulment proceedings.

Children of Annulled Marriages

Where a decree of nullity is granted, a child of the parties to the decree shall be deemed to have the same status and rights as if the marriage of the parents had been dissolved.

Conclusion

Marriage is a legal construct; thus, a marriage is considered valid if it is celebrated in accordance with the laws. Persons intending to engage in any marriage-related process must ensure that they understand the provisions of the law in this regard.

The goal of this article is to give information about how to get a divorce annulled in Ghana. Different circumstances may require specific solutions, which in certain situations may take another form of proceeding to be dealt with. 

Any person who wishes to commence a divorce process or seek to annul a marriage but has doubts about the process or requires further clarification may contact any qualified lawyer for assistance. 

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