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11 Oct 17

Can I annul my marriage if he concealed his criminal background?

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The short answer to this question: probably. The longer answer is that it really depends on your particular case. There are a few different factors that need to be looked at to determine whether an annulment is an option for you.

What is an annulment?

Annulments and divorces both end marriages. In a divorce, the marriage is ended, but still existed at one time. In an annulment, the marriage is ended, but is considered to never have existed in the first place.

Annulments can also be civil or religious. Civil is the legal aspect of getting an annulment. Religious is when you follow the rules of your particular religion to get an annulment in a church.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to be talking specifically about civil annulments.

Grounds for annulment

An annulment can be granted in New York for a few very specific reasons:

  • Undissolved previous marriage
  • One spouse under age at the time of the marriage
  • One spouse is physically incapable of having sexual relations
  • Consent to marriage by force
  • Consent to marriage by fraud
  • Incapability of consent to marriage

In this particular case, the grounds for annulment would be consent to marriage by fraud. You were defrauded by your spouse’s concealment of his criminal background.

What is fraud?

When it comes to annulment, fraud can mean a couple of different things. It can indicate deception in the form of one spouse lying about their age or ability to have children, or not explaining to you that they are still in a prior marriage and therefore unable to get married. It can also mean failing to inform your spouse of things such as a drug/alcohol/sex/gambling addiction, a felony conviction or jail time, involvement with a gang, current criminal activity, or having an STD or other health-related issues.

In this instance, whether your husband specifically said, “”I have no criminal history.” or simply did not mention it, it is still considered fraud. Either way, he did not tell you of his criminal history.

However, it is important to understand that there may still be circumstances under which this is not considered fraud. That’s why it’s important for you to speak with an attorney to ensure that you get the most relevant, accurate information for your specific situation.

How do I get an annulment?

The first step is to ensure that you are eligible for an annulment. Once you become aware of the fraud, you must immediately separate from your spouse if you wish to get an annulment. If you continue to live with him, you may ‘waive’ the fraud, meaning that you essentially agreed that the fraud was not a deal breaker for you and that you were okay with it. There may be some exceptions to this, but the ideal solution is for you to move out immediately upon learning about his criminal history.

The next step would be for you to hire an attorney. An annulment has some similarities to a divorce, and a good lawyer can help you navigate the paperwork and find your way through the confusion with as much ease as possible.

Annulments are just as complicated and confusing as divorces, and it’s important to make sure that you understand exactly what you are doing. Speak with a lawyer to ensure that you have the evidence you need, and get the appropriate paperwork started to get your annulment completed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

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