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

October 11, 2017 Our Blog

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.

Can our marriage be annulled if all we do is fight?

The idea of an annulment is one many people prefer. Divorce is never something people want to admit they’ve been through, especially if you married young and view your choices as mistakes. The problem with annulment is it’s not available to just anyone who wants to erase their marriage and start all over as a single person with no history of prior marriages on record. Divorce is the more common option, but you might want to know how you can get an annulment. If all you do is fight, you cannot get an annulment for that. Your marriage must end because you divorce. However, learning what situations are grounds for annulment can help you if there is a bit more to your marriage than just constant fighting.

What are the grounds for annulment?

If you want to end your marriage, you can ask about annulment. It might not work for you, but there is no harm in considering it if you want to really start over. There are only a few reasons you can ask for an annulment, and fighting is not one of them. However, if your marriage also includes one of the following issues, you might be able to file for an annulment rather than a divorce to end your fighting.

You Weren’t Of Age – If you got married and one of you was not at least 18, you might have grounds for annulment. All people who get married prior to their 18th birthday must have the valid signature of a parent to apply for a marriage license. If one of you forged it or didn’t get it and still managed to get a marriage license, you have four years following the date of your 18th birthday to ask for an annulment.

One of You Is Already Married – This is not the same as polygamy when one of you takes multiple husbands or wives. This is slightly different. Perhaps you thought your previous marriage was over because you filed for divorce or your spouse went missing and you thought he was declared dead. However, you find out later you are still married. This is grounds for annulment.

You Married With Unsound Mind – If one or both of you agreed to the marriage while intoxicated, on drugs, or one of you is not mentally capable of making informed decisions, you can file for annulment at any point prior to the death of your spouse.

Fraud or Force – If you were forced under duress to marry your spouse or you were tricked into getting married due to fraud, you can get an annulment. For example, if you were threatened and got married because you were scared, it’s force. If your spouse told you he wanted as many kids as you and you later found out he had a vasectomy long before you got married and now you can’t have kids, it’s considered fraud and a valid reason for an annulment.

Physically Unable to Consummate – When you get married, you are supposed to consummate your marriage. If you did not, you can file for an annulment. It might be because your spouse refused to, cannot do it, or has the inability to do it, and you can’t live like that. You can ask for an annulment for this reason only in the four years immediately after your marriage.

If you are doing nothing but fighting and your marriage falls into one of these categories, you can file for an annulment. If your marriage does not fall into any of these categories but you want to end it regardless, you must call an attorney and ask about a divorce. The divorce option still ends your marriage, but it doesn’t make it invalid and erase it from your past. It does, however, get you out of an unhappy situation with a spouse you don’t respect.



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