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In Jamaica, marriages and the dissolution of those marriages are governed by the Marriage Act (1897) and the Matrimonial Causes Act (1989). The applications for divorce and annulments fall under these Acts and such applications must be filed in the Supreme Court of Jamaica.


What is an Annulment?

An annulment is the legal process by which a marriage is cancelled, essentially deeming it null and void. The effect of which is to erase the union as though the marriage itself had never occurred.

Grounds for an Annulment

In Jamaica, either party may bring an application to the court seeking an annulment so long as they satisfy the grounds for doing so. Section 4 of the Matrimonial Causes Act outlines the four main grounds for applying to the Supreme Court for an annulment in Jamaica.

The Court must be satisfied that one of the below following grounds have been met before granting an annulment:

  1. One of the parties was already married;
  2. Under section 3 of the Marriage Act, the marriage may be void for:
    1. Not being solemnized by a Marriage Officer;
    2. Insufficient or no witnesses (2 witnesses besides the marriage officer are required for a valid ceremony); or
    3. The two parties are closely related.
  3. Consent to the marriage was obtained by duress/fraud –
    1.  Mistaken identity of the other party;
    2. mistake as to the nature of the ceremony; or
    3. No mental capacity to consent to the nature and effect of the marriage at the time;
  4. Parties are of the same sex.


The application for an annulment as stated earlier must be made to the Supreme Court. The application must present facts supporting the annulment including but not limited to:

  1. Full name of both parties;
  2. Occupation and address of both parties;
  3. The particulars of the purported marriage (date, place, name of Marriage officer) along with a copy of the marriage certificate if any is available;
  4. Reasons for the annulment;
  5. Whether the union produced any children, including adopted children; and
  6. The particulars of the children (name and age, education and level of dependency).

Other Issues

There are no time stipulations that has to be satisfied and can be done at any time following the ceremony whether it is 10, 20 or 30 years after the circumstances occurred. Of course, the court may make other orders consistent with the best interest of the child. Even so, there are other measures that could be used to soften the potential negative effects on the children such as those relating to custody and maintenance. The major disadvantage however, unlike an ordinary divorce, which is done strictly on paper, an annulment application has to be heard before a judge. Consequently,  the process is lengthier as well as more costly. Also, the grounds for getting an annulment are much stricter that those required for a divorce.