Divorce or Annulment?

This article covers the various legal conditions upon which a party may file for an annulment instead of a divorce.
- Zinda & Davis, PLLC, January 11th, 2013

Published January 11th, 2013

Divorce or Annulment?

Although less common, annulments are an option for those who meet the necessary legal requirements. There are time limits in which an annulment can take place that depend on the type of marriage and the state in which you live. An annulment refers to a marriage that was never valid in the eyes of the law and can therefore be "void" or "voidable".  Below we list the legal grounds upon which a marriage may be annulled.

Legal Grounds for Annulment

A marriage may be annulled if one of the following situations can be proven:

  • Mental Illness, Insanity or Retardation: The marriage may be annulled if one gets married while so mentally ill, insane, or mentally retarded that he or she could not knowingly and willingly consent to marriage. Because most mentally ill, insane, or retarded people are considered incapable of giving legal consent, annulment would be approved on the theory that marriage is a consensual relationship.
  • Temporary Insanity: If one of the parties was undergoing a spell of temporary or periodic insanity at the time of marriage, it may be annulled on the grounds that he or she was unable to legally consent to marriage. Do note, however, that a marriage will not be annulled if it occurred during a "lucid" interval.
  • Fraud: If one of the parties lied or misrepresented information in order to sway the other party, then the marriage may be annulled on the grounds of fraud.
  • Lack of Consent or Duress: If a person is compelled to marry under the threat of violence, the marriage may be annulled. This is based on the grounds that marriage is a consensual relationship and that compulsion undermines any valid consent. Actual threats of serious violence are required to prove your case.
  • Intoxication: If either party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage, an annulment may be granted if it can be proven that there was such a high degree of intoxication that one of both of the parties were incapable of knowing the nature of the marriage contract and its consequences.
  • Inability to consummate the marriage (impotency): The party seeking annulment must prove that, upon entering the marriage, the spouse was permanently and incurably impotent and that the person seeking annulment was unaware of the fact.
  • Lack of parental consent for an underage marriage: In most states, anyone under the age of 18 must have parental consent to marry. If an underage person got married without court or parental approval, the marriage qualifies for annulment.
  • One of the people is already married (bigamy): If one enters into a marriage before the dissolution of an earlier marriage, it qualifies for annulment
  • Incestuous marriage: All states prohibit marriages between parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren of every degree. Furthermore, marriages between brothers and sisters of half or whole blood, between uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, and first cousins are also prohibited. These are all classified as incestuous marriages and are subject to annulment.
  • Same-Sex Marriages: Most states only recognize marriage between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriages are therefore subject to annulment in those states.
  • Mock Marriages: When a couple enters a marriage with no intention of it being binding, it is considered a mock marriage and qualifies for annulment.

Consequences of Annulment

If your marriage is annulled, you lose all the rights that accompany it. These rights include:

  • Marital property rights: The legal owner of any property may sell it or lease it without the other’s consent.
  • Succession Rights: The couple will no longer share an estate in the event that one of the parties dies.
  • Spousal Support, Maintenance or Alimony: While child support may be granted, none will be awarded between the parties involved in the annulment.
  • Father's Guardian Rights to a Child: Fathers are typically not given any guardian rights unless it can be proven that that marriage was indeed valid or that the child was born before or within ten months of the annulment order.

The advice of an experienced family law attorney, like the ones on the team at Zinda & Davis PLLC, will ensure that the terms of an annulment or divorce decree protect your rights and ensure a new and better life. Call Zinda & Davis today to consult with an attorney immediately on the next step toward filing for an annulment or divorce in Cedar Park.

This article originally appeared on this site: CedarParkDivorce.com

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