That which is null and completely without legal force or binding effect.
The term void has a precise meaning that has sometimes been confused with the more liberal term voidable. Something that is voidable may be avoided or declared void by one or more of the parties, but such an agreement is not void per se.
A void contract is not a contract at all because the parties are not, and cannot be, bound by its terms. Therefore, no action can be maintained for breach of a void contract, and it cannot be made valid by ratification. Because it is nugatory, a void contract need not be rescinded or otherwise declared invalid in a court of law.
A void marriage is one that is invalid from its inception. In contrast to a voidable marriage, the parties to a void marriage may not ratify the union by living together as HUSBAND AND WIFE. No DIVORCE or ANNULMENT is required. Nevertheless, parties frequently do seek, and are permitted to seek, such a decree in order to remove any doubt about the validity of the marriage. Unlike a voidable marriage, a void marriage can be challenged even after the death of one or both parties.
In most jurisdictions a bigamous marriage, one involving a person who has a living spouse from an undissolved prior marriage, is void from the outset. In addition, statutes typically prohibit marriage between an ancestor and descendant; between a brother and a sister (whether related by whole blood, half blood, or ADOPTION); and between an uncle and niece or aunt and nephew.
A judgment entered by a court is void if a court lacks jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter of a lawsuit. A void judgment may be entirely disregarded without a judicial declaration that the judgment is void and differs from an erroneous, irregular, or voidable judgment. In practice, however, an attack on a void judgment is commonly used to make the judgment's flaw a matter of public record.
A law is considered void on its face if its meaning is so vague that persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at its meaning and may differ as to the statute's application (Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S. Ct. 126, 70 L. Ed. 2d 322 ). DUE PROCESS requires that citizens receive fair notice of what sort of conduct to avoid. For example, a Cincinnati, Ohio, city ordinance made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner that was annoying to passersby. A conviction carried the possibility of a $50 fine and between one and thirty days imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the convictions of several persons found guilty of violating the ordinance after a demonstration and picketing (Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91 S. Ct. 1686, 29 L. Ed. 2d 214 ). The Court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutionally vague because it subjected citizens to an unascertainable standard. Stating that "conduct that annoys some people does not annoy others," the Court said that the ordinance left citizens to guess at the proper conduct required. The Court noted that the city could lawfully prohibit persons from blocking the sidewalks, littering, obstructing traffic, committing assaults, or engaging in other types of undesirable behavior through "ordinances directed with reasonable specificity toward the conduct to be prohibited."
Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Vest to Water Rights