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Annulment is a common way to end a marriage. Unlike a divorce, annulment doesn’t officially end the marriage. Instead, it invalidates the original marriage contract, making it as though the marriage never existed in the first place. If your spouse has been deported, you may be wondering if annulment of your marriage is possible.
To get a marriage annulled, you must have grounds for annulment. This means that the marriage adheres to one of several specific situations outlined in the law. Your spouse being deported is not one of these outlined grounds, so you cannot get an annulment simply due to the deportation. With that said, annulment is sometimes possible if fraud occurred in the marriage.
Ending a Marriage
Legally speaking, a marriage can end in two ways. When a marriage is ended, both spouses are free to live their lives individually and to remarry if they wish. Divorce and annulment are the only ways to end a legal marriage. A couple who divorces is acknowledging that they were in a valid marriage and wish to dissolve it. With annulment, the couple says their marriage was not valid to begin with. There are a number of circumstances that can make a marriage valid for annulment.
Annulment Rules State to State
Marriage laws are different across the United States. Each state has specific procedures that their courts follow regarding marriage, divorce, annulment, and separation. It’s important to be familiar with the annulment laws in your state of residence. This is the jurisdiction in which you’ll file your motion. One of the most important things you can do is get in contact with an experienced family law attorney who knows the ins and outs of your jurisdiction.
One common reason for annulment in many states is that one party was forced or threatened into the marriage. This means they did not freely consent to the agreement. As such, the marriage contract is not legally enforceable, and the court will dissolve it.
There are other reasons for annulment as well. If one or both of the parties were underage at the time of the marriage, this may be grounds for annulment. An underage person may not be able to consent to marriage. People with mental disabilities may also be unable to consent to marriage if they do not understand the contract they’re entering.
Traditionally, lack of consummation could be used as a reason for annulment. Some states still allow this as a reason. Incest and bigamy are other causes for annulment. Incestuous and bigamous marriages are not legal, and therefore cannot be upheld by the court.
One of the biggest reasons annulments happen is due to fraud. Depending on the circumstances behind your spouse’s deportation, fraud may apply to your marriage. There have been cases in the past where failure to disclose a positive HIV status is considered fraud. Certain states have established that if another woman is pregnant by the man, and he did not tell his spouse before the marriage, this also counts as a fraudulent act.
Marital fraud occurs when the marriage is a way for one spouse to get a United States green card. In this case, deportation won’t cause annulment, but the initial marital fraud is cause for annulment.
For an annulment to be legally binding, a courtroom judge needs to authorize it. Both parties involved in the proceeding must be notified that the hearing is taking place. Notification can sometimes be impossible when an individual has been deported. In some states, this will keep the annulment from going forward. You’ll be legally required to serve the spouse with papers. They must also be able to attend the divorce proceedings. A deported spouse cannot do this.
If you believe your marriage was built on fraudulent grounds, you may be able to build a case to have the marriage dissolved. The process for annulment will vary depending on the state. Some states will not let you annul a marriage without the deported person able to participate in the proceedings.
If you have no reason for the annulment except the deportation, you won’t have the legal grounds to go forward. Fraud is an essential element of annulment cases. If fraud wasn’t an issue, you must get divorced instead.
No matter how you want to end your marriage, it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney about the best options for your case. You may have to track down your spouse to proceed.