Q&As

A couple were married in a legally registered ceremony in America and then several years later underwent a separate civil marriage ceremony in London. There are two marriage certificates. The parties now wish to divorce. What should be done about the fact that there was a second marriage between the same parties without the first having been dissolved?

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Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 27/04/2020

The following Family Q&A Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A couple were married in a legally registered ceremony in America and then several years later underwent a separate civil marriage ceremony in London. There are two marriage certificates. The parties now wish to divorce. What should be done about the fact that there was a second marriage between the same parties without the first having been dissolved?

A wedding ceremony may create a valid marriage, a void or voidable marriage, or a ‘non-marriage’ (also referred to as a non-qualifying ceremony in Akhter v Khan). The decision of the High Court in Akhter v Khan was overturned by the Court of Appeal, but the summary at paras [7]–[8] of the different types of ‘marriages’ remains useful:

‘If the marriage is valid (either because it has been shown or is presumed to have been conducted in the UK and complied with the necessary laws here or it had been shown or is presumed to have been conducted abroad and complied with the necessary laws there) the husband and wife gain all the benefits that come with the legal status of husband and wife. (...) In the alternative if the parties have failed to comply with the necessary laws, the marriage may be annulled as being

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