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How do I know if marriage is qualified for annulment?

Afton, VA |

married in Jan. Groom did not tell about past, Not known if he was in trouble or not. Would not support bride financially, knew her health problems and did things to make her ill anyway. Was made to leave the bride's parents home in July of this year as that was where they lived and he would not work nor pay rent. Cause her mental anguish.

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The grounds for annulment in Virginia are set forth in specific detail in Va. Code Section 20-89.1 (a link to such statute is attached hereto for your reference:

In sum, the grounds for annulment recognized in Virginia are as follows:

- the marriage was not properly licensed and solemnized (which refers to the marriage ceremony)

- bigamy (i.e., marriage was entered into without the proper dissolution of a prior marriage of one of the parties)

- a marriage that is between two people who are of a prohibited degree of kinship to one another by blood or by adoption (i.e., mother, father, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.)

- one of the parties was under age at the time of the marriage (i.e., under age 18), in which case the marriage is merely voidable and only by the under age party

- one of the parties lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity or infirmity

- one of the parties was pregnant by or fathered a child with someone other than the person that they married within 10 months of the marriage without their spouse's knowledge

- either party was a prostitute prior to marriage without the knowledge of the other party

- duress (i.e., threatened to kill your children if you did not marry them or some other similarly grave threat "forced" you to go through with the marriage ceremony -- in other words, you could petition to annul a "shot-gun wedding")

- fraud

It should be noted that most of what is described in your question does not constitute the type of fraud that the statute refers to. Examples of this type of fraud might include giving a false identity, significantly lying about their age, not disclosing a known infertility, not disclosing the real gender, substantially lying about their finances for the purposes of defrauding the victim spouse, having criminal convictions for rape and child molestation that were not disclosed prior to marriage, being in the county illegally without disclosing this status, and the like.

If groom lied about his age, immigration status, prior marital status, criminal history, was a male prostitute, or fathered a child with someone else within 10 months of the marriage, then any of these "unknowns" about the groom's past might very well be grounds for annulment. That he did not turn out to be the stellar husband that the bride had hoped for is not, in and of itself, grounds for annulment.

Alternatively, if the bride's health problems were such that they significantly impaired her mental competency/rendered her infirm, then perhaps that could serve as a ground for annulment (though this will probably necessitate hiring expert witnesses to testify as to her incompetency).

Another point to consider is whether annulment would be in the bride's best interest. If the marriage is annulled, then it's as if it never happened. If there was no marriage, then there is no legal basis for seeking alimony or other support from this guy. While alimony is very unlikely in the case of such a short duration marriage, it's possible that a court might award spousal support notwithstanding the short duration of the marriage if the wife is severely disabled by her health problems. However, the wife can only get support in the case of divorce, not annulment.

The wife should contact her local legal aid organization to see what free legal services she may be eligible for given her financial situation and her disability status. A complete list of pro bono/legal aid agencies in Virginia is available at She can also contact the Virginia State Bar for an attorney referral at 800-552-7977.

This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.


This doesnt sound like it is your question or that you are the party. So, are you asking for someone? They should ask and provide some more facts. Basic rule of thumb is that if there was some fraud involved then it can be annulled. However, an annulment may cut of some rights that may benefit from a divorce.

Attorney Williams practices FAMILY LAW throughout the State of California. The response provided in this forum is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information offered in this response is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon without further consultation with a legal professional after all relevant facts are disclosed and considered. DANIEL S. WILLIAMS, ESQ. LAW OFFICES OF DANIEL S. WILLIAMS 500 LIGHTHOUSE AVENUE, STE. A MONTEREY, CA 93940 (831) 233-3558 -- OFFICE (831) 233-3560 -- FAX



I am the mother of the bride, nothing can be gained by a divorce other then being free of this man. He has mental issues and has threatened her in such a way she is frightened of him. She wants nothing more then to be rid of him. Annulment would be preferable.

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