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Can a person receive an annulment of marriage simply because the other spouse has been deported? The short answer is no.
Marriages can end in divorce or annulment, and it’s easy to get the two confused. Divorce is a legal proceeding that ends the marriage, but both parties acknowledge that there was a marriage, it didn’t work for whatever reasons, and now they can move on. Once the divorce is final, their marital status is considered to be legally divorced. Annulment on the other hand is an acknowledgement that, for whatever reasons, the marriage shouldn’t have ever taken place. Therefore, once the annulment is final, the marital status is reverted to single – or whatever it was prior to the annulled marriage.
There are many reasons that a marriage can be annulled, and the acceptable reasons vary by state. Some of the most common reasons are if one person threatened or forced the other into the marriage, if one person was too young or too mentally impaired to give legal consent, bigamy, incest, and lack of consummating (sex) the marriage top the list of reasons some courts grant annulments. In some cases, being intoxicated at the time legal documents are signed, or when the wedding takes place, counts as legal mental impairment as well.
Fraud is also a reason for annulments in most states. In some cases, people conceal being already married (bigamy) or past marriages and the reasons they ended in divorce. A person concealing his or her positive HIV status prior to marriage is usually a reason for annulment. Some states have granted annulment because a man failed to divulge that he had another woman pregnant at the time the marriage took place.
Some people find out that the proposal, and subsequent marriage, was simply a partner wanting to obtain a green card to remain in the United States (also considered fraud). While the deportation itself is not a reason for annulment, the cause of the deportation could be a factor if there is evidence that the main goal of the marriage was to try to keep the other party in the country.
Just like a divorce, legalizing an annulment takes place in a courtroom with a judge or magistrate. Both parties have to be notified of the proceedings in order to participate equally so both have a chance to present evidence and testimony. If one person is out of the country, it may be difficult or impossible for that person to be “served,” or notified up the upcoming proceedings. Many states won’t proceed if both parties can’t be served. If the other party is served and can’t, or won’t, attend court, the judge can decide to proceed in his or her absence.
While it is still possible that deportation can be a reason for annulment, the circumstances will be the deciding factor. It is best to ask the advice of an attorney in the state in which the person seeking annulment resides about the specifics.