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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.