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There is a legal procedure designed to declare a marriage null and void. It is known as an annulment. When a marriage is officially annulled, it is determined to have been invalid and considered to have never taken place. A divorce proceeding is intended to end the marriage contract. The goal of an annulment is to have the marriage considered never to have existed. Our NYC divorce attorneys can help with this type of legal separation.
Annulments can occur as a result of people being put in situations where they shouldn’t have entered into a marriage. Civil annulments treat the marriage as if it legally never occurred. Doing this requires a person to have a very convincing reasons for an annulment to be granted.
Fraud or misrepresentation happens when one spouse lies about something. If this lie had been known prior to the marriage, it would not have taken place. This includes such things as being in a marriage to another person, not being able to conceive children, not being a legal age to consent to marriage, entering a marriage for the sole reason of gaining citizenship and more. All of these are situations that can annul a marriage because of fraud or misrepresentation.
Lack Of Consent
In order for a marriage to be legal, each spouse must have the mental capacity to consent. The consent to enter into a marriage must be voluntary. If either person was threatened or forced into being married, the marriage might be able to be annulled. If it can be proven either spouse was intoxicated or insane at the time of marriage, this could be grounds for an annulment.
Impotency Or Incest
When a marriage agreement is based on having children, and one spouse is incurably impotent, the other spouse has grounds for an annulment. This would only be a valid reason if the spouse was unaware of the impotence prior to the marriage. Should two individuals who are related too closely within their family group unknowingly marry, this marriage would have grounds for an annulment. This could include such relationships as whole or half-siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and more.
Religion Based Annulments
The criteria for getting a religious annulment are different from that of a civil annulment. In both cases, an annulment treats the marriage as if it didn’t exist. In the Catholic Church, it is a diocesan tribunal which determines if a religious annulment is granted. The tribunal decides if the marriage bond was lacking from its beginning. Either or both spouses are able to obtain an annulment if they can prove grounds. These includes maturity, appropriate motivation, honesty, emotional stability, ability to engage in a loving marital community and more. Should the diocesan tribunal grant an annulment, both spouses are able to remarry in the Catholic church. The legitimacy of children born from an annulled marriage isn’t questioned.
Advantages Of An Annulment
Many individuals benefit from an annulment because the law treats their marriage as if it didn’t happen. Once an annulment is granted, there are no further issues to deal with concerning the marriage. Courts usually do not divide property from a marriage during the legal proceedings for an annulment. Should children be involved in a marriage annulment, a judge will have to consider support and custody arrangements. Children born during an annulled marriage will still be considered legally legitimate. A marriage annulment does not impact any paternity rights or responsibilities.
Disadvantages Of An Annulment
It’s important to realize that proving the reason for an annulment can be a challenge as well as costly. In order for a civil annulment to be granted, a spouse will need to prove at least one of the grounds existed at the time the couple was married. Doing this could involve legal investigations, depositions, discovery as well as a court trial and more.
An annulment (also called “nullity of domestic partnership” or “nullity of marriage”) is the legal process to declare a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it’s retroactive. Annulled union is regarded as invalid from the start, almost like it’d never taken place. Another important difference between annulment and divorce is that divorce reasons are not too hard to establish.
Under New York law, some unions are void from their origin. These unions aren’t recognized as valid irrespective of how long the participants have been married. These are called void marriages. Although such a union is considered void from the beginning, it’s important to commence a process called “Actions to Declare The Nullity of a Void Marriage” with the Court.
Examples of void marriages are:
Incest – A union between two strongly related family members, including a brother and sister, and uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew
Bigamy – A union when one of the parties continues to be married to another person at the time of this union.
Under New York law, there are additional ways to void marriages, below are examples:
Physical Impairment – You or your partner has some sort of incurable physical impairment that’s directly or indirectly impacting their ability to have sexual intercourse.
Underage Union – One or both parties weren’t at the legal age of 18 at the time of the union. This can be annulled at the discretion of the Court, if the partner who’s under 18 wants an annulment. It won’t be given if the minor cohabited freely with the other party after reaching the age of 18.
Madness – One partner becomes incurably mad for five years or more after the union. The Court may include in this kind of annulment ruling a provision that features appropriate support, attention and upkeep of the handicapped partner for the life of that partner, payable from the property or income of the non-handicapped partner.
Force -If you’ve been driven into a union against your will, the marriage laws of New York is not going to acknowledge it.
Fraud – If your permission for the union was got by fraud or misrepresentation, you can get an annulment. Concealment of an significant content fact would constitute fraud.
What if your spouse lies about his name
Unfortunately, in most states this is not a valid reason for an annulment. In the states that would allow this reasoning to void a marriage, the accuser must show extensive proof that they were deceived. The process can be long and tedious, but many say the results are worth the effort. However, this is always grounds for divorce.
In many states, there are only a handful of reasons that would allow for a marriage to be annulled:
- Incestuous marriage: If the spouses are found to be blood related.
- Bigamous marriage: This occurs if it discovered that either one of the spouses is still legally married to another living person.
- The marriage was performed by someone who was not ordained or had the legal requirements to perform the marriage.
- Marriages involving an non-consenting or minor individual
- Examples of serious fraud: An example of this is if one partner lied to the other to gain citizenship.
Although, you should consult with a legal expert because each state’s law are extremely different.
There are two types of annulled marriages. Depending on the circumstances, some marriages will be voided and will have never legally existed. Others will be legal, but for some reason were cancelled by one of the individuals. An annulment will make a union immediately null and void. It doesn’t matter the length of the marriage, only the circumstances that have led to the request for an annulment.
While someone marrying under a false name is deceiving, it is usually not found to be a reason for a marriage annulment. However, you have been deceived and in most states this is grounds to seek a divorce. You may also have rights to receive property or monetary distribution. Many courts will investigate into the fraud attempted by the deceiving spouse. However, they will also look into when the fraud was discovered and how long you continued living in the marriage before seeking separation.
Before entering any union, it is in your best interest to have some knowledge of the person you are marrying. However, it is possible to be deceived and you should know that you have options. Whether your marriage is found to be legal or not, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Having an expert on your side will make sure you know your options and rights, no matter what your situation is.
An annulment could be the answer to the new beginning you need. Depending on the state, you are allowed to present your situation and see if you qualify for an annulment. There are several reasons that you want to legally void your marriage. Some says they are avoiding the stigma of divorce, religious beliefs, help recover from serious deceit or protect assets.
What Is An Annulment?
An annulment is the voiding of a marriage. It is the determination that the marriage has always been invalid and the history of it will be considered never to have occurred. Unlike a divorce, two parties are not seeking an end to a marriage, but the complete erasure of its very existence.
In the state of New York, an annulment can only occur if the marriage was invalid at the beginning of the marriage. The grounds for an annulment must be proven to the court and New York recognizes the following grounds for annulment:
- One or both parties were under 18 years of age
- The marriage is of an incestuous nature
- Either party is a bigamist (already legally married to someone else)
- Either party is incapable of sexual intercourse (not known to the other party at the time of marriage)
- Consent by either party to the marriage was forced, coerced or entered into under duress
- Either party was unable to consent due to mental illness
- Either party is mentally ill for at least five years
There are also religious annulments. A religious annulment is not the same as a civil one. A religious annulment is bound by canon law (law that is based on a set of ecclesiastical ordinances by Christian or Catholic church leadership) and is only performed after a civil annulment has taken place.
How Do I Know If I Can Get An Annulment?
Some marriages are considered automatically void in the eyes of the law due to their nature, such as those that involve incest or bigamy. Marriages that can be automatically voided are different from an annulment where you will need to prove grounds in a hearing and possibly go through a trial.
You must be able to meet the legal grounds requirements and in the state of New York, you must have been a resident for the past 12 months in order to file for an annulment in New York.
Marriages between parents and children, siblings, ancestors or descendants whether full or half-blood, is not allowed in New York, neither are marriages between the siblings of ancestors and descendants. If your marriage has any of these elements your marriage is automatically considered null and void.¹
You will need to file an annulment with the court. Evidence for the grounds you are claiming will be required and witnesses that can testify to any of your verbal or physical evidence will also be required. For example, if you tell the judge that you were forced into the marriage, someone who was a witness to your inability to consent or that you were physically threatened to enter into the marriage is considered valid testimony and evidence.
There are many specific elements to an annulment that require the advice of legal counsel. Your lawyer, once they have all of the facts of your case, can file the annulment petition in court, gather witness lists and testimony for trial.
They can also help you arrange any support that might be needed if there are any children involved, which will be a separate case from your annulment. Any children that have resulted in the marriage are considered legitimate children in the eyes of the law. There are certain circumstances that remove the option of annulment and your annulment lawyer can advise you if anything in your case applies to that limitation.
Should I Get An Annulment?
Unless your marriage has been invalid from the beginning, and the court would not recognize it and so automatically void it as in the case of incest, for example, you should consider both the advantages and disadvantages equally.
Your decision can depend on your outlook on life, and your happiness. For example, one of the grounds for annulment is that a spouse is unable to have sexual intercourse. Do you truly love this person and are willing or able to overlook this part of marriage, and carry on in life as a married couple?
Some advantages of an annulment are that if you realize you have made a horrible mistake because you are only 16-years-old and you were not using good judgment, the law can wipe the slate clean, so to speak, and you will have never been married.
The cost of annulment is less than divorce and the length of time it takes to obtain an annulment can be less. In an annulment, there is no presumption of joint property between the parties and eliminates the division of property process which can be stressful and lengthy.
An annulment lawyer can ease the burden of the disadvantages by doing all the work of research, gathering witness testimony and the organization of your case. Regardless of your choice, it would be wise to seek legal counsel who can advise you how best to proceed with your case.
¹New York State, New York Consolidated Laws, Domestic Relations Law – DOM § 140. Action for judgment declaring nullity of void marriages or annulling voidable marriage Find Law (2017), http://codes.findlaw.com/ny/domestic-relations-law/dom-sect-140.html (last visited Jan 19, 2018).
Deciding to get married is a serious decision. For many people, it’s one that must be sanctioned by their religious authorities. A church or other form of religious organization can agree to the marriage as it meets all necessary requirements under that organization’s laws. If the marriage is later not working out, people have several options. They can legally choose to get a divorce. A legal divorce means they are free to remarry under the state’s conditions. While some religious organizations may frown on divorce, they also offer a way out of the marriage that satisfies the laws governing marriage in that religion. This is what is known an annulment. An annulment is not the same as a divorce. In religious sects that allow for a divorce, the divorce indicates that the marriage happened but it is not one that works for either party. When someone seeks an annulment, this essentially means the marriage did not happen at all. For some people, especially those who wish to remarry with the sanction of church officials, the annulment is a useful path that lets them move on to another relationship.
Anyone who is planning to get an annulment should keep in mind what it actually means to undergo this process. For most denominations, this means filing a desire to have it done with their area religious officials. Once the petition is submitted, it is up to the religious courts to determine if the annulment is justified. The person seeking the annulment may decide that it makes sense for them to consider hiring a lawyer to help with this process. The lawyer is often familiar with the kind of legal arguments that can be used as justification to issue the annulment. They can help prepare any necessary legal documents needed to illustrate the client’s case to the satisfaction of the ecclesiastical authorities. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that this is largely a civil matter. The decision to seek an annulment will have no bearing on the overall decision to seek a divorce in New York state. The other party is not required to be present as the process continues. This means any allegations are not heard. Under state laws, any dispute of this kind must be addressed by both parties. For example, if the participant is asking for an annulment based on mental instability, the religious authorities operate on a different standard than one required by the court.
The process of an annulment has bearing on the person seeking the annulment but it is not applicable in the wider world. For example, grandparents who want some form of contact with their kids cannot be barred from seeing them on the basis that one party to the marriage had an annulment. Courts do not consider this a divorce in New York state. They also do not consider any kind of evidence that has been presented there to have any relevance to the decision to get divorced. The same evidence, such as evidence that one party has been abusive to the party, must be formally submitted to legal authorities in order for it to be considered by a judge. A lawyer can help with both processes. It’s a good idea to look closely at what is required for the annulment. One party may be very angry by the decision to make this choice. As a result, they may choose to make more demands on the other party. For example, they might ask for more child or spousal support or ask the other party to give up the family home in turn for better overall financial support.
Skilled Legal Help
Skilled legal help can provide the best course of action for any party in New York City. They can help each person decide if they would like to have an annulment and how to get it done in accordance with all necessary legal regulations. They can also find out what is needed to file papers if doing so is confusing or unclear in some way. The lawyer can also help with the process of divorce that may take place as part of the legal annulment. They will represent their client to all authorities and help them fight for the rights under all legal systems both religious and in civil court. Consulting with a lawyer is a useful step in the process and one that can lead to the best outcome.