Q&As

Where one party to a marriage that took place in England has discovered that at the time of that marriage they were still married to someone else following a ceremony that they took part in abroad, what steps should they take in relation to the English marriage?

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Published on LexisPSL on 26/03/2021

The following Family Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Where one party to a marriage that took place in England has discovered that at the time of that marriage they were still married to someone else following a ceremony that they took part in abroad, what steps should they take in relation to the English marriage?

A marriage is void if at the time of the marriage either party was already lawfully married or had a civil partner.

It is important to make a distinction between a void marriage and an invalid marriage. Such a marriage has also been referred to by the courts as a non-marriage, or nonexistent marriage but in Akhter v Khan, the court determined that it is preferable to use the expression invalid marriage.

Someone who marries another person while still being married, irrespective of where the subsequent marriage takes place, commits the criminal offence of bigamy.

The first steps that the applicant would need to take would be to ascertain the status of the marriage in India. The recognition of an overseas marriage is determined in England and Wales by domestic law. The law in this area is far from straightforward. Three main issues arise:

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