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How to File for an Annulment
An annulment occurs when a marriage is legally dissolved and declared to have never existed. While a divorce legally ends a marriage, an annulment is a way of declaring that the legal marriage should not have occurred.
The steps to annul a marriage are similar to the steps you would take to get a divorce. It's important to understand that marriage, divorce and annulment laws are state-specific and an attorney can advise you about the relevant annulment laws in your state.
How to File for an Annulment
After you've hired a lawyer to handle your annulment, you need to make sure you meet the legal requirements to file for annulment in your state. Many states have residency requirements that must be met in order to file for an annulment or divorce.
Next, you'll need to make sure that you meet your state's legal requirements for granting an annulment. The exact requirements will vary from state to state, but in general, you may receive an annulment if:
- You and your spouse are blood relatives, such as parent and child, brother and sister or aunt and nephew. A step-parent and step-child relationship may also qualify, as might an adoptive relationship.
- Either spouse was impotent and you were unable to consummate the marriage
- Either spouse was still legally married to another person when your marriage occurred
- Either spouse was not legally old enough to be married
- Either spouse was forced into the marriage
- Either spouse was not mentally competent when entering into the marriage contract. Mental incompetence may be permanent, such as someone who is developmentally disabled, or temporary, such as someone who is drunk.
- The marriage was fraudulent because either spouse failed to disclose details such as a criminal history, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases or impotence
After you've confirmed that you meet the criteria for annulment, you'll need to complete the forms requesting the official annulment of your marriage. These free annulment forms are available from the family court in your area, though you may still want an attorney to help you draw up a plan detailing how you'll divide your property, handle custody of your children and whether either spouse will receive alimony. (If you can't come to an agreement on property and children, you'll have to hash out those issues in front of a judge.) Once you've completed the forms and the plan detailing the terms of your annulment, you'll submit them--along with the necessary fees--to the local family court.
After you've filed the forms and the terms of your annulment, you'll then have to attend a hearing before a judge who will review the information. If the judge rejects it, you'll have to make changes as outlined by the judge and get judicial approval at a new hearing. Assuming the judge agrees with your file, your marriage will be annulled.