When people think of ending a marriage, the most common method is to divorce. However, annulment is another option to terminate marital status.
When Annulment is Still an Option
Annulment results in a voided marriage. This means that the marriage is nullified or cancelled. The legal effect of an annulment is as if the marriage never happened in the first place. Not all marriages can be annulled. You must show that your marriage can be voided if you want to opt for annulment. The following are grounds for annulment in most states:
- Coercion or use of force. If one spouse was coerced by threatening or being forced to get married
- Physical impairment. This includes sexual impotence or any other impairment that may prevent the couple from consummating the marriage
- Unsound mind. If either of the spouses is considered to have been of unsound mind and therefore unable to have legally consented to the marriage
- If one spouse convinced the other spouse to agree to marriage based on false statements
When a Marriage is Void or Illegal
A marriage can be annulled if it is discovered to be illegal or void. An illegal or void marriage is considered invalid automatically. The following situations are considered illegal.
- Most states do not allow for marriage between relatives. A marriage is considered illegal if it is between relatives who are closer than second cousins.
- If a spouse is married to more than one person at the same time, then the marriage is considered illegal.
- Underage consent. The law provides for legal age of consent for marriage. If at least one spouse is under the legal age of consent, the parent’s consent or approval from the court is required for the marriage to take place. Without legal consent the marriage can be considered illegal.
Why You Should Consider Annulment
The benefit of annulment is the fact that the marriage is cancelled. The law treats it like it didn’t happen. There is therefore no dividing of assets or any other issues that may arise with divorce.
If there are children involved, the court decides on their support and custody arrangements. Annulment doesn’t affect paternity or make the children illegitimate.
Seeking marriage annulment is more complex and challenging than getting a divorce. Providing grounds for the annulment of a marriage can be expensive and complicated. In most cases, you would have an easier time seeking a no-fault divorce whereby spouses are allowed to separate as a result of irreconcilable differences. However, in a situation where an annulment is an option, you should consult with an experienced family lawyer.