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Annulment FAQ

April 11, 2021 Our Blog

Can our marriage be annulled if it was never consummated?

No, you may not obtain an annulment if the marriage was never consummated. Of course, there is one exception to the rule. Typically, to enforce a marriage, you and your spouse must have sexual intercourse after the wedding. In other states, if this does not happen, you can obtain an annulment.

An annulment is the act of voiding a legally valid marriage. It means the marriage never happened. You can go on to marriage someone else and consider that you first marriage. In New York, annulment falls into two basic categories: void categories and voidable marriages.

A Void Marriage is not Legal in New York

A void marriage is not legal in the state of New York. This means they are automatically void by state law. Marriages that fit into the void category include:

• Incestuous Marriage: This is a marriage between people who are related. It includes a brother and sister of either half-blood or full blood, an aunt and nephew or uncle and niece.
• A Deceased Spouse who is Alive: In this situation, a spouse thought their spouse was dead, but finds out later they are alive. This marriage would be void.
• A Sexual Act Occurred During the Marriage: If an individual solemnized in violation of New York DRL 11, that spouse could have their marriage voided.

Voidable Marriage are Legally Valid in the State of New York

The second category of annulments include voidable marriages. A voidable marriage is a legally valid marriage that can be terminated for a specific reason. It means the marriage is not annulled until you take the formal steps to make it happen.

To obtain an annulment for a voidable marriage, your marriage must fit into one of the following categories:

• Incurable Mental Illness: You or your spouse have a mental condition that will warrant an annulment
• Incapable of Consent: You or your spouse has a mental illness that does not allow you to understand you are making marriage commitment
• Underage: You or your spouse cannot get married because you are not the age of consent. The age of consent in New York is 18 years old. If you are between the ages of 15 and 16 years old, you must have the consent of your parents. Minors under the age of 14 years old cannot get marriage with or without parents’ consent.
• Force, Duress or Fraud: A marriage must be entered to because you and your spouse have the free will to do so. There is no fraud or false pretenses.
• Impotency: The inability to consummate the marriage makes the marriage voidable. The spouse must have an incurable condition aside from being sterile. This means that you can obtain an annulment if you never consummated the marriage. However, you or your spouse must have an incurable condition that causes impotency.

You can Seek a Divorce in New York if Your Marriage was Never Consummated

If your marriage situation does not include grounds of impotency and you cannot get an annulment, you make seek a divorce. A divorce is the legal end of a marriage. It can be done by the state of New York to be valid.

Grounds for divorce include:

• Abandonment: Your spouse abandoned you by physically leaving you
• Cruel and Inhuman Treatment: Your spouse subjected you to physical and emotional abuse
• Adultery: Your spouse cheated on you
• Separation: You and your spouse broke up, but not you want to legally end the marriage
• Irretrievable Breakdown: Your marriage is broken and cannot be repaired

Contact a Family Law Attorney about Ending Your Marriage

You want to end your marriage, but you are not sure if you can get an annulment or not. Contact us. We will listen to your side of the events to determine if you are eligible for an annulment or must seek a divorce.

You are not alone in the decision to end your marriage. We are here to advice you.

How do I get my marriage annulled by the church?

The decision to get married has multiple consequences. Most couples have a wedding that is sanctioned both by civil and their private religious authorities. Those who choose to get married in accordance with the rules of the Catholic church may face specific obstacles if they choose to dissolve the marriage. Anyone planning this course of action should be aware of the steps necessary to get what is known as an annulment. An annulment is an actual agreement from the church that the marriage never happened. The annulment means that the person is not considered married in the first place and may decide to marry with the full sanction of church officials. People who have been through a legal divorce may be looking at this option once they decide they would like to get married again. Any party seeking this course of action should keep in mind that any annulment is entirely up to church officials. It cannot be ordered by any outside source including the American judicial system. All those seeking this course of action should also keep in mind that the annulment cannot serve as a substitute for a divorce. That is a matter for the courts to settle legally.

Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches

Different religions have differing laws in regards to an annulment. Two churches that have a highly formal procedure for the annulment are the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Anyone seeking an annulment can begin by contacting the church and letting them know they would like to have an annulment. The process continues as people stand in front of church court that is designed to seek out the facts related to their original marriage. The spouse that is requesting the annulment will be asked to present all of their evidence as to why they are entitled to this course of action. Church officials do not require the other person to be present at this time. They do not require the person seeking the annulment to even notify the other party that they have decided to do so. The other spouse is not required to present evidence as to why the annulment should not be granted. Church officials will careful examine the evidence presented and then make a ruling. The ruling may be quick or may take some time to complete. Any ruling issued by this religious court is considered valid in other courts. For example, if the person seeks an annulment in a Roman Catholic church in New York, that annulment applies to all locations. Under church laws, church officials in a different location cannot refuse to admit the validity of that divorce in their parish. The parish priest also cannot refuse to agree to marry the person in a religious ceremony.

Other Types of Annulment

Other religious organizations also offer a form of annulment that is similar to that offered by the Roman Catholic and Christian Orthodox church. The Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons discourage divorce. However, they have what is known as an unsealing procedure. This only applies to women not men. In Islam, a man may easily choose to divorce a woman without necessarily resorting to a court system. At the same time, a woman has the right to speak to a religious court. She can ask the religious court to agree to annul her marriage. This is not an automatic right. It may only apply in certain circumstances. Protestant churches do not recognize an annulment. The same is true of Judaism. Jews who marry religiously have what is known as a ketubah or religious agreement. This agreement can be broken and serves as a form of divorce.

Legal Help

Any kind of annulment does not have the force of law behind it. All issues related to the divorce such as custody arrangements, the division of property and an agreement for child or spousal support cannot be worked out this way. They must go through the formal court system in order to be resolved. The annulment is largely a personal and religious matter with little application to the process of legal divorce. However, it can help couples work things out in other ways. A couple may prefer to have an annulment rather than a legal divorce. In all cases, it is best to speak closely with a legal expert during any kind of annulment, separation and divorce proceedings. They can help the client determine the best legal course of action for their desired results.

Can I have my marriage annulled if he physically abused me?

Annulment and marriage are often thought to be very similar, but the truth is they are not. When you get a divorce, you are considered a divorcee. You have been previously married, and you are no longer able to claim you are a single person. Your next husband will be your second husband. If you have your marriage annulled, you are considered a single person who has never before been married. When an annulment is brought up, many people find themselves confused about what it really means.

Annulment is not nearly as confusing as it might seem once you get to know a bit more about it. Your ability to have your marriage annulled has no bearing on how long you’ve been married. Most people think you can only be married a short time to annul your marriage, but you can be married as long as you want and still get an annulment. You get your maiden name back, you are not considered a divorced woman, and your next husband is your first husband. That leaves you asking whether you are legally able to get an annulment if your husband is physically abusive.

Grounds for Annulment

If your husband is somehow related you by blood or his is married to someone else when he marries you, he is never legally your husband effective immediately upon the realization that either of these are true. Your annulment will be quick and painless, but that leaves you without an answer to your real question unless he’s abusive to you and someone else he’s married to at the same time or you’re related.

You could annul your marriage if you can prove your marriage occurred under duress or fraud. Both are legal grounds for annulment, and sometimes physical abuse falls into that category. If you did know your spouse was abusive prior to your marriage, you may not get an annulment. However, if the abuse did not begin until after you were married, you could claim that your spouse conned you into marrying him under the limitation of fraud.

You did not know he was an abusive man, and that’s why you married him. Had you known prior to your marriage that he was abusive, it might have changed your mind about how you felt about him. If he can prove you were aware of his anger issues and his abuse issues, however, annulment is not an option. If you want to divorce him if annulment is not something you can go through with, that is always an option.

Abuse and What You Must Know

There are programs available in almost every city designed to help you with your issues. You can escape from an abusive man and remain protected, you can get help, and you are not alone. The biggest reason so many women stay with men who are physically violent with them is fear. They are afraid of being on their own, of their inability to care for themselves, or that he will find them and treat them even worse. You have options, and you are not forced to stay with a man who is abusing you.

Call An Attorney

If you are afraid of your husband because he is physically abusive, call an attorney right away. An attorney is not only able to help you figure out if annulment or divorce is a better option, he or she can also find you a safe place to go and work on paperwork that can keep your husband away from you. You also want an attorney on your side if your spouse shares children with you that you fear for. Let an attorney help you get your life back on track, and let him help you determine whether an annulment is an option so you can start over with a clean slate. Don’t let an abusive spouse ruin another day of your life.

How does annulment affect custody and child support?

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 best 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 best 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 best 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.

Do I need a lawyer to file the paperwork for an annulment?

Divorces and annulments are two ways to legally end a marriage. However, there’s a very basic difference between the two. With a legal annulment, the court declares that a marriage has been invalid from the start. This means that the marriage will be treated as though it didn’t exist. Divorces, meanwhile, recognize that a marriage was valid.

If a person annuls their marriage and later marries again, that new marriage will be considered their first marriage. A divorced person who marries again is considered to be on their second marriage.

Even though annulments invalidate a marriage’s validity rather than ending a legally-existing marriage, they’re still complicated affairs. If you want to annul your marriage, it’s a good idea to get in contact with a divorce attorney for a number of reasons.

Annulments Are Not Favored

Legal annulments are not generally favored by the public policy across states in the US. It’s widely preferred for marriages to be terminated by a divorce proceeding. Alternatively, courts prefer to deal with issues related to marriage through a legal separation proceeding. Annulments are much rarer than divorces because they’re typically permitted only under specific, rare circumstances.

There’s an untold number of cases in which people have filed to have their marriage annulled, only to have the request denied by the court. A denial of an annulment leaves only three options: a legal separation, a divorce, or staying in the marriage. In some states, separation isn’t permitted, which means the only options are divorce or staying in the marriage.

Proving Grounds for Annulment

For a marriage to be annulled, you need to prove that there are grounds for annulment. These grounds differ slightly from state to state, so it’s important to be familiar with your state’s specific laws. This is another reason why a local divorce attorney is helpful. They’ll understand all the circumstances surrounding annulment in your jurisdiction.

Though there are slight variations, the reasons tend to be similar. You need to prove that your original marriage contract was invalid for some reason.

One reason to seek an annulment is if one of the spouses was incapacitated when the wedding occurred. If a spouse was underage when the wedding was performed, or they have a mental disability that prevents them from understanding the marriage, then they do not have the ability to consent. Lack of consent to a marriage means the marriage contract is not valid.

Another reason a marriage may be annulled is if one spouse was still legally married to another person. There are rare circumstances in which a presumed-dead spouse is found to be alive. At this point, if the other partner had remarried, that marriage would be annulled automatically.

If a marriage broke the marriage laws of the state, it can also be annulled. One example would be a prohibited incestuous marriage. Marriage isn’t permitted between siblings, uncles and nieces, or aunts and nephews. Marriage between first cousins also tends to be prohibited. The state cannot recognize a marriage that doesn’t comply with marriage law. Because of this, the contract is rendered invalid.

No matter what the specific grounds for annulment are, there’s one thing in common: One or both of the involved parties was not able to enter into a marriage contract. By this logic, the marriage wasn’t valid.

Many state laws have time requirements regarding when people can file for annulments. If you and your spouse have been married for longer than the time limit, you might not be able to seek an annulment. At this point, your options become a legal separation or divorce.

Religious Versus Secular Annulment

One important thing to understand is that religious and legal annulments are different. Legal annulment is an action taken by the state, while religious annulment is an action taken by the church. A legal annulment does not mean that a marriage has been annulled in that person’s religion. Similarly, a religious annulment does not mean that a marriage has legally been terminated.

It’s important that you seek out the right type of annulment for your wishes. If you wish for your marriage to be annulled for religious reasons, you should seek annulment through the church. If you’re seeking legal annulment, you need to go through the court system.

Annulment Paperwork

Paperwork for annulment cases needs to be prepared precisely. It needs to explain why the marriage is invalid. It also needs to provide proof. Without proof, the annulment request will likely be denied.

Today’s society is dedicated to the do-it-yourself revolution. Unfortunately, many try to handle legal battles on their own in an effort to save money. Filing a case pro-se can be advantageous in some situations, however, when it comes to an annulment, it is best to leave it in the hands of a professional. An annulment is not like a divorce or dissolution. There are stipulations that must be met for the petition to be granted. Annulling a marriage is saying that it was fraudulent or never existed.

Grounds for an Annulment

Some people believe that if their marriage is too short that they can annul it. Unfortunately, the length of the marriage has nothing to do this matter. The marriage must be considered legally “void” or “voidable.” Moreover, the requirements are very specific for the court to grant this action. They will insist on proof that the union should be invalidated. Leaving for any other reason will not work.

Reasons to Void a Marriage

There are several grounds to ask for a “void” marriage. For instance, if you were not lawfully permitted to enter into the union, the marriage would be invalid. This would occur when a person was already married and enters into a second marriage. The law considers this act “bigamy” and it is a punishable offense. If the person requesting the annulment, has a spouse that was married before they married them, they will need to file for divorce and not to for an annulment. The state doesn’t always have knowledge of these things when they issue a marriage license. They depend on honesty from the applicants.

Another reason that a marriage can be void is if you have married a close relative. These marriages are considered to be “Incest, Consanguinity and Affinity” under the law. In most states, a person cannot marry their parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandparents, step-grandparents, children, or grandchildren. These rules also apply to family members on the spouse’s side. An exception to the rule is that a man can choose to marry his son’s wife. However, a woman cannot marry her daughter’s husband, but the woman can marry her husband’s father. The laws get really confusing when it comes to relative relations. Only an attorney can ensure that you have a true basis to void the marriage.

Understanding Voidable Marriages

A voidable marriage is a bit different. These types of unions can occur when one part is drunk or mentally ill at the time of the marriage. If one spouse is not capable of sexual intercourse, the marriage can be canceled. Most states require a party to be 18 years of age unless they have parental consent. Getting married underage is considered a “voidable” marriage. If there was some sort of fraud in the marriage, the court will annul the union if it goes to the heart of the marriage.

Historically, annulments for deception were fixated on sexual relations and the capability to have children. Courts will also find fraud where one person had ulterior motives for the union. For example, marrying for immigration reasons is considered a crime and a reason for a “voidable” marriage. One party may be in love but the other party was just using them. Many misleading or deceitful acts, though, will not be grounds for an annulment. Furthermore, if you should have known about the fraudulent, or were a party to it, then the annulment will not be granted.

Legal Help is Advised

With so many stipulations and requirements, it is easy to see why it is imperative to have legal representation in this type of proceeding. Yes, you can file for an annulment yourself, but you should save yourself the trouble and get any attorney.

This is a really unfortunate situation, and there is no “easy answer.” First and foremost, lawyers always take steps to protect themselves prior to beginning work for a client. Most will talk to you about the expected costs, in order to make sure you’re on the same page, and then take a retainer upfront from clients. That way, if you default on one, or two, bills, they are covered for at least some of the work they’ve done.

Obviously, things can change – and a client’s finances can go downhill – especially in cases of divorce. As a result, some clients are unable to make a payment – going forward. If this happens to you, or if you think this will happen to you in the near future, you should inform your lawyer immediately. Many people are afraid of talking about their finances with a lawyer – and think they lawyer will drop them. Quite frankly, it’s in the lawyers best interest to work with you. Remember – getting new clients is hard, especially for an attorney. It’s much easier for NYC divorce attorney you hire, to be lenient – and work with you, rather than drop you as a client. If you are straightforward, many lawyers will try to work out a reasonable payment plan. Some may be willing to change your case to a contingency fee based fee structure, or might agree to postpone payments – in order to reduce the financial stress on you – the client.

If you’ve hired a divorce attorney, we highly recommend being transparent and honest. Many clients who run into financial difficulties, often lie to their attorney – and then create a huge wave of problems. If a lawyer is doing good work for you, you should never lie to him – because he could, and has every right, to drop you as a client – if you mislead him, or fail to pay him. In addition, some lawyers may get pissed off – and decide to sue you for the money you owe them. This means you’ll have to pay even more fees. It’s much easier to treat this like any other debt, and be transparent + talk it out with the attorney. No lawyer likes to sue his clients, and most will try to work out something.

The law is complicated and can be highly confusing. Any kind of dispute from a divorce to the decision to write out a will may require multiple meetings with law enforcement officials. Under such circumstances, all parties in question may be best served with help from a lawyer. Lawyers serve many functions. They offer legal counsel pertaining to the person’s specific issues. They help provide specific documents that are legal documents and can be enforced in the courts. They also help with other aspects of the legal system. For example, they can explain in plain language what a judge meant with a certain ruling. Working with a lawyer is often a crucial part of working within the court system. However, sometimes, even though the person really need legal help, they may not have the funds on hand right now. In that case, it’s important to keep in mind the kind of options that might be available for help from the legal community.

How Lawyers are Paid

While there are many forms of payment for legal service, in general the way lawyers are paid breaks down into only a few types of payment. A lawyer may agree to take on a case in return to funds after it is won. This is common in cases where monetary issues may be at risk. For example, a person may have a lawsuit against a corporate for discrimination. The lawyer may agree to take the case up front for no money right now. However, they will take a share of any award or court settlement. The lawyer may also be paid via what is known as a retainer. A retainer is a sum of money the person agrees to pay up front. The lawyer draws on the retainer as they continue their work. A lawyer may also agree to work for a client on an hourly fee basis. Any form of legal counsel should make it clear what kind of fees they charge up front. They should also make clear what other kinds of fees may be charged as any case continues such as fees for a private investigator and the use of a paralegal.

Delayed Payment Methods

Delayed payment methods are quite common when it comes to legal help. For example, someone may be involved in a serious divorce case that requires a great deal of legal help to settle. The divorce may have multiple issues at stake such as child custody, help with the dividing of existing property and assistance with deciding how to divide any existing pension funds. One party may be have far better access to legal resources than the other party. One person may be a doctor with lots of ability to pay for legal help up front while their former partner has been a stay at home mom. In that case, the stay at home parent may not have the immediate resources they need in order to get effective legal counsel. However, once the case is ultimately settled, she will have access to all kinds of funds that can be used as she sees fit. Under those circumstances, the lawyer may agree to work with her right now for reduced funds that she pays in small installments until she’s able to pay them back the lawyer in full with the money she gets in a divorce settlement.

Many Types of Solutions

For those who need help but cannot pay right now, there are lots of potential solutions. A lawyer may agree to a plan that allows the client to pay small amounts over time until the case is resolved. A lawyer may also agree to work pro bono. A pro bono case is a case where the lawyer chooses to work for the client for free. Many law firms have a specific part of the practice dedicated to this kind of case. The goal is to give back to the community and make it a better place. Under all circumstances, it is best to be up front about any fiscal issues. The lawyer should know that the person does not have the funds to pay them right now. In that case, it may be helpful to consider shopping around. A person in search of legal counsel should investigate their options. Many lawyers are happy to consult with potential clients for a small initial fee. This allows both parties to see if they can offer the legal help the person with their case.

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