There is a legal procedure designed to declare a marriage null and void. It is known as an annulment. When a marriage is officially annulled, it is determined to have been invalid and considered to have never taken place. A divorce proceeding is intended to end the marriage contract. The goal of an annulment is to have the marriage considered never to have existed. Our NYC divorce attorneys can help with this type of legal separation.
Annulments can occur as a result of people being put in situations where they shouldn’t have entered into a marriage. Civil annulments treat the marriage as if it legally never occurred. Doing this requires a person to have a very convincing reasons for an annulment to be granted.
Fraud or misrepresentation happens when one spouse lies about something. If this lie had been known prior to the marriage, it would not have taken place. This includes such things as being in a marriage to another person, not being able to conceive children, not being a legal age to consent to marriage, entering a marriage for the sole reason of gaining citizenship and more. All of these are situations that can annul a marriage because of fraud or misrepresentation.
Lack Of Consent
In order for a marriage to be legal, each spouse must have the mental capacity to consent. The consent to enter into a marriage must be voluntary. If either person was threatened or forced into being married, the marriage might be able to be annulled. If it can be proven either spouse was intoxicated or insane at the time of marriage, this could be grounds for an annulment.
Impotency Or Incest
When a marriage agreement is based on having children, and one spouse is incurably impotent, the other spouse has grounds for an annulment. This would only be a valid reason if the spouse was unaware of the impotence prior to the marriage. Should two individuals who are related too closely within their family group unknowingly marry, this marriage would have grounds for an annulment. This could include such relationships as whole or half-siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and more.
Religion Based Annulments
The criteria for getting a religious annulment are different from that of a civil annulment. In both cases, an annulment treats the marriage as if it didn’t exist. In the Catholic Church, it is a diocesan tribunal which determines if a religious annulment is granted. The tribunal decides if the marriage bond was lacking from its beginning. Either or both spouses are able to obtain an annulment if they can prove grounds. These includes maturity, appropriate motivation, honesty, emotional stability, ability to engage in a loving marital community and more. Should the diocesan tribunal grant an annulment, both spouses are able to remarry in the Catholic church. The legitimacy of children born from an annulled marriage isn’t questioned.
Advantages Of An Annulment
Many individuals benefit from an annulment because the law treats their marriage as if it didn’t happen. Once an annulment is granted, there are no further issues to deal with concerning the marriage. Courts usually do not divide property from a marriage during the legal proceedings for an annulment. Should children be involved in a marriage annulment, a judge will have to consider support and custody arrangements. Children born during an annulled marriage will still be considered legally legitimate. A marriage annulment does not impact any paternity rights or responsibilities.
Disadvantages Of An Annulment
It’s important to realize that proving the reason for an annulment can be a challenge as well as costly. In order for a civil annulment to be granted, a spouse will need to prove at least one of the grounds existed at the time the couple was married. Doing this could involve legal investigations, depositions, discovery as well as a court trial and more.
It’s a sad fact of our society that not every relationship or marriage lasts. In the United States, at least 50 percent of couples divorce. If you’ve gotten to the point that you believe your relationship is beyond saving, it might be worth considering a divorce. There are certain circumstances, though, where an annulment might be better than a divorce.
There are some similarities and differences between annulments and divorces. The two proceedings serve the same purpose. They end a marriage between partners. However, the steps involved in the proceedings are very different. They’re rooted in different types of legal theory.
When you look for a divorce, you’re ending your marriage legally. The divorce solidifies the fact that the marriage was legal and binding. With an annulment, though, the marriage legally dissolves like it had never existed at all. If you don’t believe that couples should divorce, you might want an annulment to dissolve a marriage that was a mistake. Some individuals cite religious reasons for choosing an annulment over divorce.
When you consider annulments, you should keep in mind that they treat marriages like the marriage did not exist in the first place. For this to happen, the marriage must have one of several potential factors to be the grounds for an annulment. There are a number of different common situations.
One example would be a spouse committing fraud or misrepresenting a fact. They may have misrepresented their reproductive ability or age. The idea is that the other party entered the marriage under false pretenses.
A marriage can also be annulled if a person’s spouse concealed an important fact from them. If the person was a drug addict or alcoholic, had a prison record, or had a sexually transmitted disease, and that information was withheld, there may be grounds for divorce.
Annulments can also sometimes occur when the parties misunderstand each other about having children. If an individual made their spouse believe they both wanted children, and then decided they didn’t want children, this is sometimes considered just cause for an annulment.
A marriage can be annulled if one party is unable to or refuses to consummate their marriage. If one person cannot or will not have sex with the spouse, this is considered grounds for annulment.
Marriages are sometimes annulled if one party was not legally capable of consenting to the marriage. This includes people who are underage as well as people with significant mental disabilities.
If one of the spouses was still married to another person, their new marriage would not be considered valid. The marriage would be unlawful and would be overturned.
As previously mentioned, marriages can be annulled if the party wishing for the annulment was below legal adulthood when the marriage occurred. Even if they’re over the age of 18 when they seek the annulment, they still have grounds to have their marriage annulled.
The exact laws and guidelines regarding marriage annulments vary widely from state to state. Some states have imposed a statute of limitations on annulments. This means that there is a specific time period in which annulments can take place. If the couple waits too long, they will legally have to divorce rather than getting an annulment.
If you’re seeking an annulment, it’s important to be familiar with your state’s regulations. Failing to file your paperwork in time could bar you from having your marriage annulled at all.
Annulments have no bearing on the legal paternity status of any children born during the marriage. In some cases, the judge may ask the father to declare paternity over the children during the annulment. The declaration of paternity helps solidify the father’s paternal rights. The judge then has the power to issue orders about child support, visitation, and custody. In the majority of states, annulments do not involve dividing property or paying spousal support.
There are some cases in which one party files for an annulment, and the other party responds by filing for divorce. Divorces don’t have any statute of limitations. Divorces also tend to have more complex proceedings because the court determines property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.
If one of the spouses wishes for a divorce rather than annulment, their only requirement is to cite irreconcilable differences that have destroyed the relationship.
If you want an annulment, you should contact an experienced attorney.
Annulments Based on Fraud
Divorce, is the usual solution for a failed marriage. One spouse will petition for a divorce, based on the rules in the state he or she, lives in. The decree of divorce, granted by the courts, will dissolve the marriage.
Annulment is another way of ending a marriage. When a decree of annulment is granted, it ends the marriage. Unlike a divorce, however, an annulment goes further. It declares that no valid marriage ever happened, due to a defect in it’s inception. Annulment is another way of ending a marriage. It decrees there was no marriage ever, due to a legal issue. Compared to divorce, annulments are rare. They are very tightly regulated. Each state provides very specific reasons, in which a marriage will be annulled. Typically, reasons are things like: impotence, infancy, mental incompetence, incest, fraud, etc. If one, or more, of the reasons listed here exist, then the marriage is void – regardless of whether one more parties file for a decree of annulment.
Annulment’s can be granted based on fraud. Courts can grant a fraud based annulment, is the fraud induced the marriage. The duped spouse has to show that he, or she, relied on misrepresentations made when deciding to go through with the marriage. For example, if you are compelled to marry someone – due to a child out of wedlock, and then later find out the child isn’t yours, you could potentially ask for an annulment. If you can prove the spouse knew the child was someone else’s, and lied saying it was yours – this could be reasonable grounds.
Even when a case of fraud is proven, courts can decide that it is outweighed by other variables. For example, if the marriage has been in session for a long time – it’s harder to annul. Consummated marriages, are harder to annul than unconsummated marriages. If you have children, it will be difficult to annul the marriage – even if fraud is a contributing factor behind the marriage.
In many states, there is an “essentials of the marriage,” test – which restricts annulments based on fraud that touches upon the very definition of marriage. For example, if a spouse lies about pregnancy, infertility, impotence, diseases, or willingness to have children – then this a more solid footing for request annulment. Based on our experience, any fraud that relates to the ability for the marriage to be consumated – resulting in more children, is more likely to result in annulment. If you try to get the marriage annuled due to things like character defects, financial fraud, or other things that don’t touch directly to your ability to consummate the marriage – it’s harder to get the fraud accepted and the marriage annulled.
Both annulments and divorces operate to terminate the bonds of marriage between two people, but they’re entirely different proceedings that are based on two different legal theories. A divorce proceeding dissolves the bonds of matrimony of a valid and legally recognized marriage. An annulment operates to declare that a marriage never existed. Some people just don’t believe in divorce and opt for seeking an annulment. Others might have religious issues that prompt them to seek an annulment rather than a divorce.
Grounds for annulment
Since annulments treat marriages as if they never existed, grounds are ordinarily required. Those grounds might include:
The statute of limitations
In some states, annulment grounds could have a statute of limitations within which the case must be filed. Those might be seen in annulment cases involving:
Annulment when children are involved
Annulment of a marriage doesn’t interfere with the legal paternity of children who were born of the marriage. The judge in the annulment proceeding can be asked to declare their paternity. He or she can also enter appropriate orders on custody, child support and visitation. In most states though, a judge isn’t permitted to rule on property division or spousal support.
When a judgment for dissolution of marriage is entered, a court has legal authority to act on matters of property and spousal support along with child custody, child support and visitation. It operates as a more thorough proceeding, and in most states, grounds are no longer required. There need only be an agreement to the effect that irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. A party to a marriage can also file for a divorce at any time without regard to a statute of limitations.
The general public has many misunderstandings regarding the law of annulments. They’re not always legally available, and time limits for filing might apply. Annulment law is also different in every state. You’ll need to talk to an experienced family law attorney in your state for advice on the legal grounds and consequences of an annulment. Unless you have uncompromising religious beliefs against divorce, obtaining a judgment for dissolution of marriage is likely the better option. All matters in connection with the marriage can be addressed and ruled upon.
In certain situations where a couple concludes their marriage simply cannot work, the answer may be an annulment. Different from a traditional divorce in that it legally declares the marriage never happened, an annulment can be a difficult path to follow. And in some cases, it can be even more difficult if one spouse attempts to annul the marriage without informing the other spouse of his decision. While initially this sounds as if it is not legal, the fact is one spouse may be able to annul a marriage without their spouse ever finding out.
Declaration of Nullity
In annulment cases, the spouse seeking an annulment is hoping the judge hearing the case will grant a Declaration of Nullity. If a spouse is opposed to the idea of an annulment or chooses to ignore the fact that the legal proceedings have begun, that will usually have no bearing on the case being heard before a judge. While a judge will always prefer to have both parties involved in the legal proceedings, it is not considered a necessity in order for an annulment to be granted. In situations such as these, the court will make every effort to contact the spouse to let them know the case is proceeding, and to allow them every opportunity to actively participate.
Spouse Cannot Be Found
In annulment cases where one spouse may be unaware of the legal actions being taken against them, the reason behind it is often that they cannot be located. While the court will expect the spouse seeking the annulment to make an effort in good faith to locate their spouse, it is not necessary in order to have an annulment granted. By giving the court a spouse’s last known address or phone number, the obligation to attempt to locate a spouse has been met.
In situations where one spouse feels as if they may be in danger if their spouse knows what they are doing, the court will attempt to use all legal methods available to ensure their safety. In these cases, the most common example is when a restraining order has been issued against a spouse deemed to be a danger to the other, often resulting in the spouse having no idea annulment proceedings are in the works. While fulfilling the requirements of the law can be somewhat difficult in situations such as these, courts will usually work with lawyers and their clients to ensure no harm comes their way.
When a Declaration of Nullity is granted to one spouse, it does not mean that only that spouse is no longer married. Even if the other spouse is not aware an annulment has been granted, they are automatically considered to no longer be married in the eyes of the court. However, due to their inability to be located or their unwillingness to participate, they may possibly go for many years without knowing they are once again free to marry, which can lead to numerous complications.
Do I qualify for an annulment if I felt pressure into marrying him?
A civil marriage may end legally through an annulment or a divorce. An annulment is a legal procedure that invalidates a marriage (from its beginning), while a divorce dissolves it.
According to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate in the United States is “hovering” around 50%. By contrast, civil annulments are rare. Most people know someone who has been granted a divorce, but it is uncommon to know anyone – other than a celebrity – whose marriage has been civilly annulled. (Religious annulments are more common, particularly in the Catholic Church, but are processed differently, and are granted for different reasons.)
Civil annulments are rare because their eligibility requirements are so strict, and “no-fault” divorces are an uncomplicated option. The process is a front-ended one where a legal determination is made that a marriage is either “void” without doubt (essentially, it never happened) or “voidable.” If it is “voidable,” there must be a proven reason for its invalidity.
Laws about invalidity vary from state to state, but there is a general core of very serious determinants for it, including fraud/misrepresentation of self. Examples: a spouse not disclosing the true intention for a marriage (such as obtaining a green card); not revealing a criminal past – as in Virginia, entering a marriage as an “undisclosed felon”; and, not disclosing a sexually transmitted disease or impotence. Other determinants include: an unconsummated marriage; consanguinity – i.e., marriage between too-close relatives; bigamy or polygamy; marrying under force or duress (precipitated by blackmail or emotional and physical threats and behavior); lack of the capacity to consent (e.g., marriage to an underage spouse, or “child bride,” which, shockingly, is still a problem in the United States); a spouse of unsound mind (e.g., he or she was under the influence of alcohol or was mentally unstable upon marrying or had an incurable mental illness of long duration).
Qualifying for a civil annulment based on feeling pressure to marry depends on what exactly is meant by “pressure.” The pressure to marry someone has to be looked at through the lens of the “force” and “duress” cited in the law as outlined above. Pressure as grounds for a civil annulment has to be considered in terms of its severity and impact on a spouse’s ability to consent to a marriage freely. In a civil annulment procedure, the inability to decide for oneself in entering a marriage would be the litmus test.
The types of pressure that would make a person take pause but not affect his or her ability to make a sound decision to marry might include parental and family pressure, childbearing pressure, church culture/mores, and societal and partner expectations of when to marry. These are not reasons that would hold up under force and duress.
Because the burden of proof in nullifying a marriage may be great, and issues involving legal protections and other matters may arise, advice and the decision regarding how to proceed in leaving a marriage is best left to a qualified attorney.
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