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Annulment of marriage

Under certain conditions, a marriage may be annulled. An annulment retroactively makes it as if the marriage never existed.

Annulment of marriage overview

An annulment is a legal process that ends a marriage. Unlike divorce, which dissolves the marriage, a marriage annulment treats the marriage as if it never happened. In other words, an annulment declares your marriage to be invalid from the beginning. It may be easier to remarry within your church if you get an annulment rather than a divorce. Annulments can be civil or religious. The information below is for a civil annulment.

Why choose an annulment vs. a divorce?

Some choose to get an annulment because they feel that a divorce carries a stigma, but there are also financial benefits. Some financial disputes can be avoided because both parties return to their original financial state before the marriage. Both parties are equally responsible for any additional debt accrued during the marriage. The handling of assets gained during the marriage varies from state to state, so you should find out what your state’s laws say about annulment. 

When is getting an annulment an option?

The most common reasons for a civil annulment are bigamy, incest, fraud, insanity, unconsummated marriage, impotence, duress, misunderstanding, concealment, incapacity due to drugs or alcohol, and being under the legal age for consent.   Your state may also have specific requirements and time frames to keep in mind. Proving the grounds for an annulment can be costly and sometimes more complex than an uncontested divorce.

What is the process if I qualify?

You must file paperwork with the county in which you live. Some states require that you also file annulment paperwork in the county where you were married. A family law lawyer and county clerks can help you figure out where you need to file. There is often a minimum residency requirement for a county to accept annulment paperwork, so talk to your lawyer or county clerk to understand your county’s requirements. Residency requirements can sometimes interfere with annulment timelines.

How long does it take?

Like a divorce, the average time for an annulment is one year. Also like a divorce, the time can become much shorter or much longer depending on the level of agreement between spouses and amount of proof for the grounds for annulment.
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