Here’s an article from Aaron Rodgers, a tax fraud lawyer at our firm. While it is possible that your husband could annul your marriage without you knowing about it, it is unlikely that this will happen. This is because getting an annulment is often somewhat difficult to do and the court system does require that your husband at least attempt to contact you so that you can be served with notice regarding the court process. Still, there have been cases in which one party has obtained an annulment and the other spouse has not been aware of what is happened.
What is Annulment?
In a civil annulment, a judge declares a marriage to be null and void. In law, it is as if the marriage never happened. Annulments are rare because those who request them have to prove to the court that the marriage was somehow defective from the beginning, and thus never really existed.
It is essential to understand is that civil annulments are different from religious annulments. In a spiritual annulment, a group of clergy, scholars or leaders from a particular tradition consider whether a marriage was valid by the tenets of the religion. The decision of the religious court has no bearing on whether a marriage is considered valid under civil law.
Grounds for Annulment
Grounds for annulment vary by state and are usually significantly more restricted than grounds for divorce:
Bigamy: If one party is legally married at the time of a second marriage the marriage can be annulled on the grounds of bigamy.
Incest: If the couple is closely related, the marriage may be invalid.
Incapacity: If, at the time of the marriage, one or both spouses was unable to give meaningful consent, the court man all the marriage. Incapacity may be defined as a severe mental illness, a cognitive disability or even being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Coercion: Marriages should be entered into freely by both parties. If one party marries the other because they have been forced or coerced, the marriage may be annulled.
Fraud or misrepresentation: This is a broader category, but may include things like failing to disclose a criminal record, extreme debt or previous marriages. If the couple has discussed having children, but it turns out that one party knows that he or she is infertile, this could be grounds for an annulment.
Non-consumation of marriage: If the couple has not engaged in sexual intercourse, this could be grounds for annulment.
In some states, a spouse has a limited amount of time in which to file for an annulment after they get married. These time limits vary significantly between states.
Why Would Someone Want an Annulment?
The annulment process is generally more lengthy and often more expensive than simply getting a divorce. However, some individuals seek annulments because they want it established that the marriage was not valid and thus never existed. This is particularly true if one of the partners believes that he or she was the victim of fraud. In addition, an annulment may protect against further financial entanglements between the parties.
The Notification Process
If an individual believes they have grounds for annulment, the court will require them to cooperate in notifying their spouse. This is standard in court cases, and the judge has the right to require the petitioner to provide information about the other party’s last known whereabouts. If the spouse cannot be located, the court may require the petitioner to place a notice in the newspaper as a last step before granting the annulment.
Getting Legal Help
If you have reason to believe that your husband may file for an annulment without you knowing about it, getting legal help is a good idea. An attorney can explain your rights and responsibilities and provide you with a vigorous defense against the annulment if you believe that your marriage is actually valid.