There are many potential reasons for the annulment of a marriage. Perhaps one partner was already married, making the union bigamous. Maybe one spouse was a minor at the time of the wedding, or the couple is closely related and guilty of incest.
Whatever the reason, if your marriage is annulled, it’s effectively null and void. Legally speaking, it’s as if it never happened.
In some cases, both partners may readily agree to an annulment. But what happens when there are grounds for an annulment, but one party - for whatever reason - doesn’t want it to happen? Do both parties have to agree for the case to proceed, or can one block the action? These are fundamental questions because when a marriage is annulled, both parties can experience serious ramifications.
Keep reading to learn more about annulments, including when they’re allowed, whether both parties have to agree, and the possible consequences.
The short answer is a resounding no; they don’t. If you can provide the necessary proof, then there’s nothing your partner can do to stop the annulment, even if it’s against their wishes.
Alongside bigamy, incest, or status as a minor, other reasons for seeking an annulment include being of unsound mind at the time of the marriage, impotence or inability to consummate the union, and entering into the marriage under duress, force, or fraud.
But, there’s always a but. For an annulment to happen, you must provide solid and compelling evidence of why your marriage should be declared invalid. In some instances, that may be a relatively simple matter, but it might not be so easy in others, especially if your spouse is contesting the case. Moreover, depending on which state you live in, statutes of limitation may also apply.
There are several key differences between a divorce and an annulment. Still, the most significant one is that a divorce ends a legal marriage, whereas an annulment ends an illegal marriage. The distinction is important because there are various consequences - legal, financial, religious, and so on - when a marriage is declared to be unlawful.
For an annulment, you must provide conclusive evidence to prove why your marriage should be void. Compare that situation to a divorce, where you can apply for a separation without having to give a specific reason - a “no-fault” divorce, in other words.
Another difference is that your state may require a cooling-off period before you can file for divorce, whereas you can apply immediately for an annulment. Equally, you can file for a divorce at any time, but there may be time limitations with certain aspects of annulment law.
The respective rules on alimony and division of marital property are also different. However, in both cases, if children are involved, custody, visitation rights, and maintenance may need to be arranged.
When a marriage is subject to an annulment, the legal position is that the union never happened. This means that divorce isn’t an option because the law effectively says that there’s no marriage to end. Consider it this way: you can’t conclude something that never legitimately took place.
It’s equally important to note that there’s a big difference between seeking an annulment and getting one. It can be a long and arduous process to prove that a marriage should be annulled. If you’re alleging that your partner illegally forced you into marriage, for example, remember that they’re innocent until proven guilty and that the onus is on you to provide the evidence.
In many respects, having an annulment means that you start again with a clean slate. Afterward, your marital status is legally single or unmarried, not divorced. You may also find that you’re significantly better off financially because there’s no need to pay alimony or share your property.
Interestingly, any children born during a marriage that’s eventually annulled are still considered legitimate. Accordingly, you and your former partner may need to agree on arrangements for your children.
One of the most significant advantages of an annulment is that you’re free to remarry immediately. Remember that in the eyes of the law, after an annulment, you’re considered to be a single, unmarried person.
In general, if you’re eligible, securing an annulment is also a much speedier way to end your marriage when compared to a divorce.
An annulment is an official legal ruling that your marriage is invalid and that your union is therefore deemed never to have existed. So from a practical and legal point of view, you’re not seen as a married person.
However, your original license application, marriage, and annulment in court all remain matters of public record.
Typically, there are various complicated stages to go through before applying for, and hopefully receiving, your annulment. You need to review the laws in your state, check that you’re eligible, collect and collate evidence, and then present it in a court of law.
An experienced family lawyer can help to speed up that process by verifying that you have a case, guiding you through the relevant legal procedures, and ensuring you avoid any mistakes that might delay or even invalidate your claim. If it arises that you aren’t eligible, a trusted attorney can also advise you on all your other options, including why a collaborative divorce might be your best option.
You don’t need the agreement of both parties for an annulment to happen, but you do need persuasive evidence to prove to the courts why your marriage should be declared null and void. You may enjoy much more significant benefits from an annulment over a divorce, so it’s well worth exploring if you’re eligible.
A dedicated family lawyer can confirm whether you have a case, and if you do, help ensure you receive a positive outcome in the courts. Schedule your free consultation with Marble today to find out whether your marriage is eligible for annulment.