Decree of Nullity Law and Legal Definition

A decree of nullity is a judicial order determining in effect that the marriage in question never existed. The decree declares that the marriage is and has always been null and void. A decree of nullity differs from a divorce. A divorce is the vacation of the marriage contract for a sufficient cause, and is conclusive evidence that the marital rights have once existed. A decree of nullity discloses that a valid marriage contract never existed.

“The decree of nullity conclusively establishes that marriage never existed; and the parties, after the decree, stand related to each other, as to all rights except those especially saved by the statute, as though the marriage ceremony had never been performed. The result of a decree of nullity is that not only are the parties not now married, but they never were." [People ex rel. Byrnes v. Retirement Bd. of the Firemen's Annuity & Ben. Fund of Chicago, 272 Ill. App. 52, 65 (Ill. App. Ct. 1933)]