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Learning that you’ve been lied to and that your spouse isn’t the person you thought they were can truly be devastating. Luckily, you may have some legal recourse as this type of fraud is generally grounds to have the marriage annulled. Although fraud is the most common grounds for annulment, you can also file for an annulment based on a number of other grounds. However, the New York annulment laws are very specific and there are certain time limits and other requirements that must be met in order for a court to void your marriage or rule it invalid.
New York Annulment Laws
New York annulment laws are written in such a way that it’s always best to seek the assistance of a qualified Nassau County annulment lawyer in order to give yourself the best chance of a favorable outcome. Despite what most people believe, a civil annulment cannot be given on the grounds that the marriage has yet to be consummated.
While this may be true for a religious annulment, this factor is irrelevant in the eyes of the court. Instead, a court will generally only grant an annulment in cases where it determines that the marriage is not legally valid based on a number of very specific grounds.
Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of marriages that can be annulled—illegal/void marriages and voidable marriages. Void marriages are those that were never legally valid under New York law, such as incestuous marriages or where one partner was already legally married. As these marriages are not technically legal to begin with, it’s not always necessary to have them annulled since they are invalid.
On the other hand, voidable marriages refer to those cases where a court determines that the union is no longer valid for one of several different reasons.
Fraud, Coercion and Duress
Both parties must agree to the marriage under their own free will. Otherwise, the state may rule that the marriage is invalid and thus qualifies for annulment. This includes cases where one partner was forced or coerced into the marriage, and also in cases where their consent was obtained fraudulently. However, there are exceptions to these rules.
Even if you were forced into the marriage, choosing to voluntarily live with your spouse following the marriage automatically bars you from filing for an annulment. In cases of fraud, New York laws stipulate that you have up to five years from the date you discovered the fraud to file for an annulment. Either way, should your spouse oppose the annulment, an annulment attorney can help you present your case in court to hopefully convince the judge that you have sufficient grounds.
Incurable Mental Illness
Should your partner suffer from an incurable mental illness that lasts for a period of at least five years, this also gives you sufficient grounds to file for an annulment. However, this situation also comes with a caveat. If your spouse has a period of sound mind at any point after the five years and you choose to voluntarily continue living with them, this disqualifies you from filing for annulment on grounds of mental illness.
Physical Inability to Have Sexual Relations
New York courts will also grant an annulment in cases where either spouse is physically unable to have sexual relations. It is important to note that this only applies to the ability to have sex and not the ability to have children. This means that you don’t have grounds for an annulment just because your spouse is sterile. Generally speaking, this type of annulment is only granted if you were unaware of the person’s physical incapacity at the time of marriage, in which case you are given up to five years to file for annulment.
Underage at the Time of Marriage
Judges can also grant an annulment in the case where one or both spouses were under the age of 18 at the time of marriage. However, this type of case must generally be filed before you turn 18. Voluntarily living with your spouse after you have both turned 18 makes the marriage legally valid in the eyes of the court, which means that it can no longer be annulled.
Inability to Provide Consent
Marriages can also be annulled if a court determines that one spouse was unable to give consent due to mental incapacity or mental illness.
The Legal Effects of Annulment
If the court grants an annulment, it technically means that your marriage was never legally valid and thus never existed in a legal sense. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that an annulment allows you to avoid the hassles that come with a divorce, such as child support and custody. Annulment legitimizes any children that you and your spouse had together, meaning that they you share equal financial responsibility for raising them. In fact, the court’s ruling will also specifically include decisions related to custody, child support and visitation rights.
If you feel that you have legal grounds for an annulment, the very first thing you need to do is contact a Nassau County annulment lawyer. By seeking the assistance of a professional lawyer, you’ll not only make the entire process go more smoothly, but you’ll also improve your chances of having the annulment granted so that you can finally move on with your life.
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.
Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them enough.
Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet.
Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind.
Our divorce lawyers provide superior service, and results, with a white glove touch that few others can deliver.
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