06 Dec 18

How does annulment affect custody and child support?

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A marriage has a great deal of significance. Getting married for most people means getting married legally in accordance with all laws that govern acceptable forms of marriage. In addition to the choice of civil marriage, many people also opt for the possibility of religious marriage. They may head to a chapel or other religious space to get married. If the marriage is not working out, one party or more may decide to dissolve such bonds. In that case, they may want to get what is known as an annulment. An annulment is a formal agreement from a religious authority. The religious authorities state that the marriage did not take place at all. In the eyes of the religious institution, an annulment means that the marriage was not valid. It means that the person who got married can then be married in church as they are not considered married or divorced.

Legal Issues

The process of filing for an annulment means that one party has gone to their religious organization. A court will decide if the case has merit and the annulment should be granted. The other person involved is not required to be notified nor are they are required to be present during any part of this process. One person can have their annulment and move on. However, what the person filing for an annulment needs to remember is that the issue here is one confined to the religion. It has no bearing on any kind of legal process outside the religious authority. For example, the Catholic church can agree the marriage did not take place. However, any legal authority is not required to take this into account when deciding on any other aspect of the divorce such as custody or any related childcare matters. As the annulment is not a divorce, a grandparent may decide to pursue a form of custody or visitation. The annulment will not affect their legal rights to do so.

Child Support Issues

Anyone who is involved in any kind of child support and custody issue should keep in mind that all children born during the marriage are presumed to be the offspring of both parties. A man may contest paternity and ask for a DNA test. However, even if this test comes back indicating he is not the father, the law considers him to be the father because he has agreed to care for the child over the course of the marriage. In the event of any kind of divorce or separation, he is automatically considered to be part of the couple and automatically entitled to certain rights under law. He can file for primary or joint custody, ask for child support and ask that the other party provide him with child support to care for that child. He can also contest any orders of child support issued by the court and ask that they be changed in some way.

Other Related Issues

A person may decide to present the annulment to the court. However, they should keep in mind the court system will take no notice of this decision. The annulment can be granted without the input of the other party. This means that the person seeking any form of custody or child support has not been given the opportunity to speak out or defend their stance. They are also not necessarily given the opportunity to refute any allegations. Any kind of custody and child support agreement will instead take other factors into account as it continues. Anyone who is planning a separation or divorce of any kind where children are involved should be aware of such issues. Such issues include any prior history of abuse, financial matters and any future living arrangements for the children and each parent.

Taken Into Account

Any kind of custody and child support arrangements are based on one thing and one thing only. That is the interests of the child and any other siblings. A judge may decide that one parent is better able to support their children financially. They may also decide that it is in the interest of the child to avoid contact with another parent because that parent is not fit in some way. However, presenting evidence of alleged unfitness in a court via an annulment is not considered such evidence. The court system will demand other forms of evidence instead such as a legal and medical examination by a qualified outside party.

What If He Decided Not to Have Kids After We Married?

It is not uncommon for married couples to not have children. However, this may not be what some individuals thought was the plan when they got married. If you got married only to find out afterward that your husband didn’t want to have kids, there are a couple of different ways to get out of the marriage.

Annulment or Divorce?

When you find out after you get married that your husband has no intention of having children, you may be able to get an annulment. However, this is generally only possible if he won’t have sex or otherwise be intimate with you. An annulment means that the marriage never took place, which also means that there is no joint property to divide or spousal support for either side to provide. If your spouse will be intimate with you, it is likely that you will have to file for divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

What If He Finds Out He Is Sterile?

You may find yourself in a situation where your husband is sterile or otherwise cannot have children. If he knew that he was sterile and didn’t tell you, it may be grounds for an annulment. However, if he found out that he was sterile after the wedding, you may need to file for a divorce as he was not acting in a misleading manner.

Your Husband Isn’t Obligated to Provide Children

A man is not obligated to help his wife conceive a child even if he is married to her. While one of the purposes of marriage may be to raise children in a stable household, that is more of a religious and societal belief as opposed to a legal one. Therefore, you most likely won’t be able to argue that you should get an annulment simply because he doesn’t want children even if he may have thought otherwise before the marriage.

Is There a Prenuptial Agreement?

The only reason your husband may be obligated to help start a family is if there is a prenuptial agreement with such a provision. Basically, a prenuptial agreement is a customized marriage contract that each side agrees to before the wedding. Even if such an agreement exists, it may be challenged in court, which could render it invalid. If that happens, you would once again have little or no legal basis or recourse other than a contested divorce to be settled in court.

It may be incredibly difficult to find out that your husband doesn’t want to have kids after getting married. However, your options are limited based on state law and other legal precedents. This means that your options may be to try and work things out with your spouse or talk to an attorney who may be able to help you legally end your marriage.

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