According to The Washington Times, over 24,000 U.S. couples petitioned for an annulment in 2012. Many couples seek to end a marriage through an annulment rather than a divorce for either social or religious reasons. If you are looking into getting an annulment, there are a few things you should know before you begin:
- Not all marriages are annullable. You have to seek an annulment on one of the state’s permissible grounds.
- An annulment means your marriage never existed; a divorce means the end of a legitimate marriage.
- Getting an annulment is not really any easier than a divorce. You still have to file certain documents, pay court costs, deal with custody, support, and property distribution issues, and get the court’s approval.
Below, we discuss some of the basics for getting an annulment. To determine if you qualify for this type of process, or inquire about legal assistance for the process, contact Hecht & Associates at 301-587-2099 for a consultation.
On What Grounds Can One File for an Annulment?
When the court annuls a marriage, it declares that the marriage was invalid and therefore never existed. To have your marriage annulled, you must prove to the court that your marriage is void. Each state has its own rules regarding annulment. In Maryland, for instance, there are only six viable reasons for annulment:
- Duress – You were under duress and coerced into the marriage. You must have been fearful of actual harm at the time of the ceremony.
- Underage – Either you or your spouse were not of age when the marriage took place. In order to qualify for an annulment, one of you had to be under the age of 18; age 16 or 17 without parental consent; or age 15 and pregnant without parental consent.
- Incest – You and your spouse are closely related, specifically more so than first cousins.
- Fraud – Your spouse defrauded you. The lies must have significantly impacted the integrity of the relationship and your well-being or health or your children’s health.
- Polygamy – Your spouse was married to someone else at the time of your marriage. This often happens when a couple marries before the court formally dissolved a prior marriage.
- Mental incapability – Either you or your spouse were mentally incapable of getting married, e.g., under the influence, mental disability, etc.
What is the Effect of an Annulment?
When a judge annuls your marriage, it means that—in the eyes of the law—the marriage never existed at all. If you are ever asked on forms, applications, or legal documents if you have been married, you can say that you have not. Annulments are beneficial in several ways:
- You are free to “remarry” at any time.
- You are free from religious implications, such as in Catholicism. (In fact, Catholics are party to nearly half of all annulments in America, the Washington Times)
- The court will still help you decide on issues such as custody, child support, visitation, and alimony. Each party is still entitled to an equitable share of the couple’s “marital” property. This is a privilege that only some states, like Maryland, afford people.
How do I get an annulment?
The process for an annulment is fairly straightforward: you file a complaint with the court, serve it on your spouse, schedule a hearing, and then state your case to the judge for approval. But straightforward is not synonymous with easy when it comes to an annulment case. It can be difficult to collect evidence to support your grounds, as well as reach terms about regular dissolution issues like custody and support. Annulments can often be just as contentious as divorces.
It is highly recommended you seek legal counsel from an experienced annulment law firm to determine your best course of action and to navigate your annulment or divorce. An annulment attorney can answer any questions you may have about dissolving a marriage and can provide you with the legal representation you need to move through the process as smoothly and discreetly as possible.
Contact Hecht & Associates today at 301-587-2099 for a consultation with an experienced annulment attorney.