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.