What is an annulment?
An annulment legally ends a marriage on the basis that the marriage was never valid according to a family lawyer with our friends at Brandy Austin Law Firm. An annulment is granted through showing specific grounds for annulment based on factors and reasons present prior to the marriage. If the court grants an annulment, it legally erases the marriage because the marriage never technically existed.
What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Both a divorce and an annulment legally end a marriage. However, in a divorce, the marriage is found to have been valid. Divorces are based on reasons that occurred during the marriage. The validity of the marriage is not in question in a divorce, so a divorce does not retroactively erase a marriage. On the other hand, an annulment finds that the marriage was not valid in the first place and therefore should not be legally or technically a marriage.
What are the requirements for an annulment?
For some states, these are grounds for annulment:
● A spouse was younger than 18 when they got married
○ A court may grant the annulment of a marriage of a person 16 years or older but younger than 18 that occurred without parental consent or a court order
● A spouse was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics when they got married
○ A court may grant an annulment to a party if at the time of the marriage the petitioner was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics and therefore did not have the capacity to consent
■ The petitioner has not voluntarily lived with the other party since the effects of the alcohol or narcotics wore off
● A spouse is permanently impotent
○ Either party, for physical or mental reasons, was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage
■ The petitioner did not know of the impotency at the time of the marriage and has not voluntarily lived with the petitioner after learning of the
● A spouse got married because of fraud, duress, or force from the other party
○ The petitioner has not voluntarily lived with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force
● A spouse did not have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage
○ At the time of the marriage the petitioner did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony due to mental disease or defect
■ The petitioner has not voluntarily lived with the other party during a period when the petitioner had the mental capacity to recognize the
marriage due to mental disease or defect
○ At the time of the marriage the other party did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony
■ The petitioner didn’t know and should not have reasonably known of the mental disease or defect
■ The petitioner has not voluntarily lived with the other party since they discovered or should have reasonably discovered the mental disease or
● A spouse concealed a divorce from a third party that occurred within 30 days before the marriage
○ The petitioner didn’t know of the other party’s divorce from a third party that occurred within the 30-day period before the marriage ceremony
■ The petitioner has not voluntarily lived with the other party since learning about or discovering the divorce
● The marriage occurred less than 72 hours after the spouses got their marriage license ○ A court may grant an annulment if the marriage ceremony took place during the 72 hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license ○ A suit cannot be brought on these grounds after the 30th day of the marriage
Some may want an annulment rather than a divorce as an annulment essentially erases the marriage from existence, which means there may be fewer issues with property and financial divisions. However, legal complications may still arise from the pursuit of an annulment. When considering whether to get a divorce or an annulment it is a good idea to consult a family law expert on what would be best for your situation.