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Legal invalidation of a marriage. It announces the invalidity of a marriage that was void from its inception. It is to be distinguished from dissolution or divorce. To justify annulment, the marriage contract must have a defect (e.g., incompetence of one party because of age, insanity, or a preexisting marriage). Continued absence of one party may also justify annulment. Generally, annulment is easier if the marriage is unconsummated. Both secular law and Christian canon law have annulment procedures.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on annulment, visit Britannica.com.