Can I Get an Annulment of My Marriage?
An annulment is a legal procedure that declares a marriage null and void. In other words, legally the marriage never occurred. However, annulments are not available to every couple who wants one. In general, you must demonstrate to the court that your marriage should not have occurred in the first place. Only if you can prove that it is invalid will the court grant an annulment of your marriage.
What Are the Grounds for Annulment of a Marriage?
Annulment laws vary from state to state, but most states usually require that one of the following criteria be met before they will grant an annulment of your marriage:
- You and your spouse are close relatives by blood, adoption or marriage. For example, you might have grounds for an annulment if you and your spouse are parent and child, brother and sister or niece and uncle. A step-parent and step-child or adopted brother or sister may also qualify for an annulment.
- Either spouse was impotent and you were unable to consummate the marriage. You can only make this argument for annulment if you did not know your spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage.
- Either spouse was still legally married to another person when your marriage occurred. Because polygamy is illegal, a spouse could be granted an annulment if they unknowingly entered into an illegal marriage.
- Either spouse was not legally old enough to be married at the time of the marriage. However, the annulment might not be granted if the couple is still married when both spouses are legally old enough to get married.
- Either spouse was forced or coerced into the marriage.
- Either spouse was not mentally competent when entering into the marriage contract. For example, someone who was temporarily incompetent, such as a drunk person, would have grounds for annulment, as would someone who had permanent mental incompetence.
- The marriage was fraudulent because either spouse failed to disclose details. Such details include a criminal history, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases or impotence.
Choosing Between Annulment and Divorce
Only you and your spouse can decide whether to pursue an annulment or a divorce. If you are seeking an annulment, consider hiring an attorney who has previously worked with others seeking an annulment. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the pros and cons of both divorce and annulment.