Manhattan Annulment Lawyers
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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.