Annulment of marriage

What does annulment mean?


logo Your EuropeThe annulment of a marriage means that the marriage is deemed never to have taken place. Annulment is granted by a court.

Valid grounds for annulment

A marriage can be annulled on various grounds:

  • Lack of consent of the spouses.
  • A minor has been married without being released from the age requirement. Annulment can no longer be sought, however, if a period of six months has elapsed since date on which the spouse in question, or both spouses, reached 18 years of age, the legal age of majority.
  • The marriage was solemnised despite impediments of kinship.
  • In the case of bigamy.
  • The marriage was intentionally contracted abroad in order to avoid the legal requirements for marriage applicable in Belgium.
  • The marriage was solemnised by an official who lacked competence.
  • The marriage was not contracted publicly.
  • It is a sham marriage or a forced marriage.

Who can apply for annulment?

Annulment can be sought by:

  • the spouses themselves
  • all interested parties
  • the Public Prosecutor’s Office (judges attached to the Public Prosecutor’s Office)

Where there has been a lack of consent, only the spouse who is the victim of the violence or error can seek annulment.

Sham marriage

In a sham marriage, at least one of the spouses intends to obtain a residence permit in Belgium. When people manage to enter into a sham marriage, a court may subsequently declare that the marriage is null and void.

Such annulment can have serious consequences. The persons concerned may be sentenced to prison terms or fines.

You can consult a lawyer for more information on the annulment of a marriage.

Support service
SPF Justice – Information Unit
115 boulevard de Waterloo
1000 Brussels
+32 2 542 65 11

Responsible authority
Federal Ministry of Justice

Last update on 23 march 2022

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