Four Things You Need to Know Before Filing For an Annulment

Annulments are not common and make up a small percentage of cases filed for parties looking to end their marriage.  If you have questioned whether filing for an annulment of your marriage is an option for you, here are the top four things you should know.

  1. A marriage can be void or voidable.  A void marriage is invalid from its very beginning, because it was is unlawful and therefore requires no formal process or court order to terminate.  Although a void marriage does not require a court order to invalidate it, the best course is to get an annulment, rather than just assuming the marriage did not exist absent a court order.  A voidable marriage, on the other hand is a legal marriage that can be cancelled by one of the parties, but this requires a court order.  The first step would be to file for an annulment in family court. 
  2. There are only certain circumstances (Grounds or Causes of Actions) that if proven support an action for an annulment.  The most common grounds for an annulment are that one of the parties were already married to someone else (and has not ended that marriage), under age, lacks mental capacity to consent to marriage,  there were defects in the marriage license and or the solemnization (ceremony), or the marriage was entered into under fraud, duress, or by force.  Some of these circumstances make the marriage void, while others make it voidable.  It can be difficult to prove these allegations, so it’s a good idea to seek a dissolution of marriage as well as seeking an annulment.     
  3. There are differences between filing for an annulment and filing for a divorce.  It’s different from a divorce as an annulment requires a specific complaint, just using the divorce complaint won’t work.  A third party can initiate an annulment (such as a conservator).  There is no 90 day statutory requirement for annulments so as soon as the court can hear the case you can proceed to your final hearing without having to wait the 90 days that you would in a divorce action.  The grounds or causes of action (why you are seeking the annulment) have to be proved by the plaintiff, if not then the judge can deny the annulment.  In a divorce, there is a easier minimum burden.  All you have to prove is that the marriage has broken down and there is no hope of getting it back together.  If you did not file a dissolution at the same time, and the annulment is denied, then you would be out of luck and would have to start all over filing a new complaint.
  4. Annulment and divorce actions share some similarities such as a child born into marriage that is annulled is legitimate.  Custody, alimony, child support, and property division orders may be ordered just like a dissolution action.  There appears to be no bar to the court entering temporary ordersaddressingcustody, alimony, child support, etc.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to file for an annulment, or you are considering what’s the best course of action to start your divorce then contact the Law Office of N. Gladstone Brown.  We have experience dealing with annulments and all divorce actions, and can help you make the right decision.

N. Gladstone Brown is the owner of the Law Office of N. Gladstone Brown, a law firm specializing in divorce mediation, and family law.  Visit our website at or give us a call to find a better way through your divorce or any of your family law needs.