An annulment, unlike a separation, is a decree that a marriage has been declared invalid. Annulments are usually available only under very specific circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, the duration of a marriage is not the determining factor in whether an annulment is granted. Some examples of valid grounds for annulment include:
- One of the married parties entered into the marriage as a result of threat, force or duress.
- One of the married parties did not have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage contract at the time of matrimony. This could be due to a permanent mental disability or temporary impairment due to injury or drugs.
- The married couple are “closed” biological relations and should not be allowed to marry under the law. In most states, marriage is not allowed for parent and child, stepchild and parent, aunt and uncle, niece and nephew, grandparent and grandchild, and parent and parent. There will be different types of relationships that are considered “close” and which can qualify for annulment.
- One of the spouses was younger than the legal age for consenting to marriage. The possibility of an annulment in some jurisdictions may also be dependent on whether any other legal requirements such as parental consent and/or judicial consent were met.
- One of the married couples was fraudulently incited into entering the marriage. Fraud could include concealing an important fact such as permanent impotence, sterility, or infect with a sexually transmitted infection.For an annulment to be granted based upon fraud or deception, it may be necessary for the spouse seeking the annulment to end the marriage immediately upon learning of the deception or many jurisdictions may consider that the fraud was effectually a non-issue.
- One of the married parties was married to another living individual at the time of marriage. This type of marriage could be considered bigamy in certain jurisdictions and be automatically null under the law.In this case, it may not be necessary to also search an annulment. Some jurisdictions allow for an annulment if one spouse fails to disclose a recently completed divorce.
- Many jurisdictions will not grant annulments to a couple who has had children and an annulment can limit one’s ability to receive alimony or share in the marital property.
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