LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | Apr 18, 2016

How to Get an Annulment for Marriages

If you believe your marriage may be illegal or otherwise invalid, you may want to learn how to get an annulment.

An annulment is a marriage declared by the courts to be null and void. A marriage will be annulled if it does not satisfy criteria required for marriages in the United States. An annulment voids the marriage contract, essentially making it appear as if the couple was never married.

Gather evidence

In order to receive an annulment, you'll need to state the reason you believe your marriage is invalid. You may be eligible for an annulment if your marriage is deemed void or illegal for one of the following reasons:

  • Your spouse is married to someone else.
  • You or your spouse are under the age of consent.
  • Your spouse is related to you.
  • You were forced or coerced into marriage.
  • Your consent was obtained by fraudulent means.
  • Your spouse is impotent or otherwise unable to consummate the marriage.
  • You were of unsound mind when you were married, either due to insanity or the effects or drugs or alcohol.

File the annulment paperwork

You will need to file the annulment action in the county you live. If you were married in another county, you may also be able to file your action there.

Every state has its own annulment requirements, which provide guidelines for filing the action, including when you should file. The time requirements will depend on both the state laws and your case. For example, if you're seeking an annulment on fraud grounds, your time limit will depend on when you discovered the fraud rather than your marriage date.

To get started, you'll need to file an annulment petition, similar to a divorce petition. You will also need to complete other paperwork and provide evidence that proves your marriage is voidable or illegal. You can get this paperwork from your local court clerk or website.

Alternatives to annulment

Like a divorce, it takes an average of one year for an annulment to be granted. But in some cases, it may be faster to get a divorce than to prove that your marriage is invalid. To get an uncontested divorce, you only need to cite "irreconcilable differences", meaning that you do not get along. A lawyer creates a divorce settlement that both you and your spouse agree on, and then a judge can approve it, finalizing your divorce.

If you do not want to go through the annulment process or you don't satisfy the requirements you can still end your marriage through divorce. The easiest way to do this is by citing "irreconcilable differences."

If you divorce, you may also be eligible for a share of marital property, alimony, and spousal benefits issued under the federal Social Security program. These benefits are not available after getting an annulment.

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