Void (voidable) marriages.

Russian law draws an important practical distinction between annulled marriages and those ended by divorce. Where the marriage is annulled the law recognises that there has been some fundamental flaw in the establishment of the marriage, rendering it ineffective from the very beginning. Where there is a divorce the creation of the marriage is considered proper and it is brought to an end at some later point. In a wider philosophical context the concept of nullity reveals what Russian law sees as important ingredients of marriage.

Russian law does not speak about void marriages, only about voidable ones. The difference is that the first has never existed in the eyes of law, even if it has never been declared as such by court. Any person can seek a court order to confirm that a marriage is void. A voidable marriage is the one that needs a court order to be annulled, and only persons specified by law can apply for the decree of annulment.

The grounds on which a marriage is voidable are:

(a) the marriage is entered into involuntarily;
(b) either party did not reach the marriageable age;
(c) at the time of the marriage a party was already married;
(d) the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship;
(e) at the time of the marriage a party was legally incapable due to the mental disorder and the fact was established by court;
(f) a party concealed from the other one that he or she had a venereal disease or AIDS; or
(g) the marriage is a sham, where both or either party had entered it without intention to create a family.

As already noted, a voidable marriage is annulled by a court order. Apart from the party to the marriage the following persons can apply to annul a marriage:

(a) a parent or guardian of an underage spouse,
(b) a guardianship and wardship authority,
(c) a prosecutor;
(d) a spouse to an earlier marriage, which was not terminated;
(e) any person whose rights were violated by the marriage if it can be nullified on the following grounds: at the time of the marriage either party was already married; the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationships; or at the time of the marriage a party was legally incapable du