Marriage Annulments: 3 Things You Should Know

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 23, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you've ever gone through a divorce, you know that it's not exactly the easiest thing in the world. Maybe that's why some marriages may end in annulments instead of divorce.

Emotionally, divorce can be draining. Financially, it can be stressful. Logistically, it can be a nightmare.

In the eyes of the law, annulments allow separating couples to treat their marriage as if it never existed. Here are three things you should know about how marriage annulments work:

  1. There are typically two types of annulments. Civil annulments are handed out by courts. Religious annulments, on the other hand, are usually handed out by institutions such as the Catholic Church. The end result of both are typically the same: The marriage is treated as if it never existed.

  2. There needs to be specific grounds to obtain an annulment. Not everybody qualifies for an annulment. One of these legal grounds usually needs to be established:
    • One of the parties was incapable of giving legal consent at the time of the marriage.
    • One of the parties was temporarily insane.
    • One person fraudulently misrepresented information vital for the marriage.
    • There was duress at the time of consent.
    • One of the spouses was already married at the time.
    • The marriage was incestuous.
    • One or both spouses were intoxicated or under the influence.
    • The marriage could not be consummated.
    • One of the parties was underage and the parents did not give consent.
  3. Annulments need to be obtained within a certain amount of time after the marriage. Depending on your jurisdiction and the grounds you're citing in support, an annulment is subject to statute of limitations and must be filed within a certain amount of time.

If you're wondering how to get an annulment, it might be prudent to consult a local family attorney to get more information about your state's marriage annulment laws.

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