We have all heard about people getting their marriages annulled but a lot of people do not know what an annulment is or if it could apply to their marriage. In general, an annulment is a legal action that makes a marriage void. It is different from a divorce because a marriage that has been annulled is considered to have never existed. When two people get divorced, all marriage records remain recorded as well as the divorce. Each state has its own specific laws when it comes to getting a marriage annulled. Annulments are normally very rare and are only granted under very unusual circumstances.
An annulment can be granted for many reasons. The reason itself is often called an impediment and is why the marriage should not be valid. An impediment can be prohibitory meaning that it was wrong to enter marriage in the first place. These types of impediments include things such as already being married to someone else or marrying your brother or sister. Other reasons for annulment include insanity in relation to consent, not intending to remain faithful when marrying, deceiving one party in order to get consent, being abducted and forced to marry, and many others.
Under family law in some states, an annulment of marriage may be declared void by the superior court. If children have been born or will be born as a result of the marriage, it cannot be annulled. Anyone who enters a marriage that should be by law declared void has the right to file for a petition for annulment. They may also file for a petition for divorce as long as grounds exist. Service, jurisdiction, procedure, and pleading are the same as when obtaining a divorce. If annulment is granted, both parties will return to their status prior to the marriage and the marriage is considered void.
A court must decide to annul a marriage and make it legally invalid. Some people seek annulment through a religious court. Even if a religious court annuls the marriage, it is only legal if annulled through a court of law. Civil annulments can be granted for things such as incest, fraud, bigamy, and active substance abuse. They cannot be granted just because you are not getting along, dislike one another, or been wronged in a way that would normally qualify for a divorce.
Civil annulments are simpler than a divorce and they remove the legal foundation for the marriage. Division of assets is not an issue and each party keeps what was originally theirs. Certain state laws that pertain to things such as the two parties living together may change the court's ruling. Even though the laws are different in each country and state, the petition must commonly be filed before two years of the marriage have passed.
Family law attorneys can help you with questions you have in determining if your marriage can be annulled. By consulting with an attorney about family law and annulment requirements you can decide if annulment is an option for you. They can then help you get the process started by filing the appropriate paperwork for the annulment.