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Deciding that it is time to legally separate from your spouse can be a traumatic experience that is often fraught with challenges, which is why it’s vital that you hire an experienced New York City divorce lawyer to help guide you through these difficult times. When you do decide to call it quits from your spouse, one of the first things you’ll need to determine is whether to seek a simple divorce or an annulment.
Divorce vs. Annulment
Although the number of annual divorces in the United States has been steadily declining for the past decade, the percentage of marriages that end in divorce or annulment is still quite high. Even if it’s no longer true that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, it is still important to know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through and that there is help out there to guide you through the process.
The vast majority of marriages that end are ended in divorce. However, in certain cases you can take things one step further by having the marriage annulled, which essentially means that a court declares the marriage to be void or invalid. By having your marriage annulled, you can potentially avoid the stigma that comes with being divorced as an annulment makes it like the marriage never happened—at least in legal terms.
Manhattan Annulment Laws
Like most other places, New York annulment laws are quite strict and can only be granted under certain conditions. This means that, in order to have any chance of having your marriage annulled, you’ll need to provide evidence that it meets one of the following conditions.
• Your marriage consent was obtained through coercion, fraud or distress.
• You or your spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage.
• You or your spouse did not possess the mental capacity to provide legal consent.
• You or your spouse suffered from an incurable mental illness for at least five years.
• You or your spouse is unable physically to have sexual relations.
While all of these conditions may be sufficient grounds for an annulment, there are a number of exceptions that may still affect your ability to have it granted. For instance, if you and your spouse continue to willfully live together after you turn 18, the marriage cannot be annulled on the grounds that you were under 18 at the time of marriage.
Similarly, in the case of an incurable mental illness, if you or your spouse suddenly have a period of ‘sound mind’ and continue to cohabitate throughout this period, you cannot have the marriage annulled on the grounds of the prior mental illness. Similar rules are also applied to marriages where consent was obtained under duress or force. Although being forced or coerced into marriage is grounds for annulment, New York law prohibits an annulment from being granted should you voluntarily live with your spouse after the marriage. Fraud follows the same basic rules, meaning that you have no grounds for an annulment should you continue to voluntarily live with your spouse for a certain period of time after discovering the fraud. In this case, the statute of limitations is five years, which means that you will need to file for annulment within five years of discovering the fraud.
Filing for an Annulment
If you think that you have grounds for an annulment, the very first thing to do is to discuss your case with a Manhattan annulment lawyer to ensure that your case meets the legal requirements. Going through the annulment procedures can be either quite straightforward or quite complicated depending on whether your spouse agrees with or opposes your petition. In cases where your spouse agrees to the annulment, it is often as simple as having your attorney fill out a few forms.
However, should your spouse oppose the annulment, it will then be necessary to have the case heard in court. In this case, it will be up to a judge to hear the evidence and determine whether the marriage meets any of the grounds for annulment. Since the case could end up being your word against your spouses, it is essential that you hire a qualified Manhattan annulment attorney in order to give yourself the best chances for success.
The Effects of Having Your Marriage Annulled
If the court ends up agreeing with you and voids the marriage, it essentially means that the marriage was never legal and thus never technically occurred. However, this doesn’t mean that an annulment erases all history of your marriage. In fact, both your original marriage documents and the annulment will remain a matter of public record, which means that anyone can look them up. In terms of children and assets, annulments work in basically the same way as a traditional divorce and the court decision will also include information related to division of assets, custody and child support payments.
Whether the result is divorce or annulment, ending a marriage is never an easy process. Therefore it is recommended that you seek the assistance of a reputable New York City divorce lawyer to guide you through the process and help make it as painless as possible.
Annulling a marriage in the State of New York can only be done under a very strict set of circumstances and it’s essential that you have a qualified Manhattan annulment lawyer at your side when embarking on this process. Annulment differs from divorce in a variety of ways and only certain types of marriages can qualify for an annulment. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position in which a marriage annulment is deemed necessary, review these basics of the annulment process in New York and then contact a skilled Manhattan annulment attorney right away.
Differences Between Annulment and divorce
While a divorce ends a marriage but the marriage is determined by law to have at one point been valid, a marriage annulment in the State of New York essentially erases any traces of the marriage as if it never existed. This situation only occurs in extreme cases and the vast majority of marriages are not qualified for annulment. Yet in certain situations, the law in New York holds that the marriage should never have existed in the first place, and therefore it should not only be ended but also stricken from the record.
Grounds for Annulment in New York
There are a number of reasons why a marriage may be considered qualified for annulment. One of the more unfortunate circumstances is when a marriage is determined to be incestuous. The State of New York determines a relationship to be incestuous that exists between an ancestor and a descendant, meaning between a parent and a child or a grandparent and a child, that exists between brother and sister, or that exists between a niece or nephew and their uncle or aunt.
A marriage in New York can also be annulled if either spouse was under 18 at the time of the marriage, either spouse was unable to consent to the marriage due to a diminished mental state, or one of the partners of the marriage is not physically able to have sexual intercourse. A marriage can also be annulled if either spouse has been mentally ill for at least five years or if the marriage was obtained under coercion.
Under no circumstances does the State of New York hold a marriage to be valid if either spouse was already married to another living person at the time of the marriage. This is called bigamy and is one of the more common grounds for annulment. Lastly, if the marriage was performed by someone not recognized by the State of New York as having the authority to perform this rite, the marriage can also be annulled. While the types of officials recognized under the law as being capable of performing marriages vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, this authority is generally limited to ministers, members of clergy, judges, and various other officials. Determining if a marriage can be annulled is often a tricky process, so soliciting the services of a knowledgeable Manhattan annulment lawyer is strongly advised.
Annulling a Marriage in New York
The process of annulling a marriage in the State of New York is generally quite simple because, according to the law, the marriage never existed in the first place. While in some cases a declaration of nullity is not required or desired, submitting this document to the court system can sometimes be prudent if any one of a number of circumstances is at play. If you and your partner have any children, submitting a declaration of nullity is recommended. A declaration of nullity may also be required if you feel that you are entitled to alimony or if you need to separate jointly owned property.
If you feel that filing a declaration of nullity is warranted, it’s best that you and your partner sit down with separate Manhattan annulment lawyers immediately. It may also be necessary to gather evidence that the marriage is null and void before the contents of a declaration of nullity can be agreed upon by both parties. Once the declaration of nullity has been agreed upon by both parties, your attorney will generally submit it through the proper channels.
After the declaration has been submitted, a court date will be set for both you and your partner to appear before a judge. At this point, the marriage will be annulled and the stipulations of the declaration will be ordered by the court. Throughout the process of annulling your marriage, having a qualified Manhattan annulment lawyer at your side will make all the difference.