Annulment, otherwise known as Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage, is one of the most misunderstood areas of family law. Annulment is not a simple alternative to divorce for people who immediately come to regret their decision to get married. In order to qualify for an annulment, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- One party did not have the mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage. Perhaps the most common example is when at least one of the parties was too intoxicated to know what they were really doing.
- One party is not physically capable of consummating the marriage AND this fact was unknown to the other party at the time of the marriage.
- One party was under the age of consent and did not have the permission of their parents, guardian or the court to enter a marriage.
- One party married because of the fraudulent act or representation. This fraudulent act or representation must be something which goes to “the essence” of the marriage.
- One party married under duress either from the other party or by a third party.
- One or both parties married as either a jest or a dare.
- The marriage is not a legal marriage because one of the parties is already married to someone else, the parties are too closely related (ancestor/descendant, brother/sister or aunt or uncle/nephew or niece) or for any other legal reason why the marriage would be declared void.
If you meet one or more of the above criteria, you may be able to file for an annulment but there are very strict deadlines depending on your precise circumstances which you must also meet.
The net result is that annulments are very rarely granted and the reason most people seek them (i.e. “buyer’s” remorse) is not an adequate basis. Take heart, however, that if you must seek a formal dissolution of marriage, Gasper Law Group attorneys will be able to guide you through the process.