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Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK


A marriage by name alone

Mick and Jerry agreed to have their so-called marriage annulled

Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall's "marriage" was annulled because their 1990 Hindu wedding in Bali was not recognised in English law. The BBC's Legal Correspondent Joshua Rozenberg explains when a marriage can be declared legally void.

In English law, some so-called "marriages" are not regarded as marriages at all. They are said to be "void".

That can apply when one of the parties is under 16, or they are closely related, or one of the parties is already married to someone else.

Since there is no marriage there is nothing for the court to annul, but it may be convenient to have a court document showing that the "marriage" was void.

Other marriages are said to be "voidable". That means they are valid until a court issues a decree of nullity at the request of either party.

A voidable marriage can be annulled if it has never been consummated, or one of the parties had not understood they were taking part in a ceremony of marriage, or the marriage was to someone with a venereal disease.

Mick Jagger's publicity agents had previously said he would contest Jerry Hall's divorce petition on the grounds that their Indonesian marriage was not legally valid.

There seem no grounds for arguing that the couple went through what the law would regard as a "voidable" marriage.

It therefore seems that the couple have agreed that their so-called marriage was void from the beginning. In other words, they seem to accept that there never was a valid marriage.

If a couple have never married, there is no need for a divorce. There is no "common law" marriage in England, despite what people sometimes say.

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