Annulment in Nevada - It's Easier Than you Think
Do I Need to Live in Nevada to Seek and AnnulmentNo. Unlike jurisdiction in divorce cases, there is no residency requirement for annulments. However, if the parties do not live in Nevada, the marriage must have been performed in Nevada. The reason for the difference is that in a divorce, you are seeking to end a marriage while in an annulment you are attacking the legality and/or legitimacy of the marriage ceremony or circumstances.
However, if you do live in Nevada, it is good practice to ask for a divorce when you are asking for an annulment. That way, if the Court refuses to grant the annulment, the Court can move directly to the divorce. Rather than filing a simple "Complaint for Annulment," the document filed would be entitled "Complaint for Annulment or, In the Alternative, Complaint for Divorce." Unlike annulments, divorces do not require any specific grounds, but they DO require residency and are available to anyone who has resided in Nevada for more than six weeks.
What are the Grounds for AnnulmentThere are some very specific grounds and some that are much more general (which provides a skilled attorney with the wriggle room to seek annulment for a wide range of issues). Annulment law actually deals with two types of marriages: void marriages and voidable marriages.
Remember, the Court must be adequately convinced that one or more of the reasons for annulment actually exist. NOTHING is guaranteed in the law, and Annulments are definately a complex area of law. It is for this reason that simultaneously seeking a divorce is advisable if jurisdiction for divorce also exists.
Void MarriagesVoid marriages are marriages with such a significant problem that they were automatically invalid from the moment the words "I do" were uttered. Technically, NOTHING needs to be done to invalidate the marriage. Again, as an operation of law, the marriage was "prohibited by law" and could not have been entered into and it is void on its face and never legally occurred in the first place. Practically, however, parties should still seek a Decree of Annulment to prove that they are not married. Without such a Decree, the parties are forced to lay out proof of the void marriage each and every time some inquires as to the status of the marriage. In other words, if one party wants to marry again in the future, the party may not be able to get a marriage license with another marriage "on the books." A Decree, however, proves the void nature of the marriage.
Marriages are void if either of the parties is already married or if the parties are too closely related by blood
Voidable MarriagesVoidable marriages are marriages that are legal but where some issue gives either party the right to cancel it. Typically, however, there is a limited period during which a party can use that excuse.
Reasons for Voidable marriages are: being under age 18 (and not having parental consent), "want of understanding" (being incompotent), fraud (lies and misrepresentations by one of the parties), and contract defenses (see section below).
Again, while there is no specific time limit in Nevada in which to request an annulment (such as in Illinois where annulments CANNOT be granted for any reason after one year), the Court will not allow an annulment when a party discovered the problem but continued to cohabitate with the other spouse.
In other words, if you are married for three years and discover that your spouse defrauded you (such as by misrepresenting their assets or even the exten of debts) you must begin the annulment process within a reasonable time of discovering the defect.
Contract DefensesThe Court in Nevada views a marriage as very similar to a contract. Thus, the same defenses that allow a party to rescind a contract are available to those seeking annulment. The main reasons are unilateral mistake and mutual mistake.
Mistake is when one or both parties do not have the same understanding as to the terms of the contract. In other words, they both have different ideas about what they are contracting to. To have a valid contract, the parties must have a "meeting of the minds." WIthout that mutual understanding as to the contract, the Court can rescind the contract and annul the marriage.
Some of the easiest examples are simply not discussing what each party expected from the other prior to marriage. Problems can then arise if one party wants children and the other does not, if one party does not seriously want to be marriad, in one party will not engage in sexual relations or if the parties can't agree on where to live (a common reason in international cases).
Out of State (or Country) AnnulmentsAs noted above, annulments are available to any party that was married in Nevada. My office has handled a number of them for clients from across the United States, from California to New York; and for clients from Russia, Argentina, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Indonesia, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan.
Usually it is not even necessary for the parties to appear in Court. The required papers can be emailed to the parties and returned by regular mail for filing with the Court. While this office does everything possible to avoid personal appearances by the parties, it is the judge that makes the final determination of whether a party's presence is requierd, and something that partys should be prepared for.