What Constitutes Annulment?

Annulment is likely one of the most misunderstood areas of Family Law. Having worked as a Family Law Paralegal for more than four decades, I find that most people have a false belief of what constitutes annulment. Most believe a short-term marriage, i.e., months long, qualifies them for annulment. Not true. Such a short-term marriage may qualify you for a Summary Dissolution, but not an annulment. Annulment can only be obtained if you successfully prove to the Court that one of the following specific categories applies to your case:

  1. Blood Relation;
  2. Bigamy;
  3. Underage;
  4. Fraud;
  5. Incurable Physical Incapacity;
  6. Unsound Mind; or
  7. Force.

Your case must have valid standing under any of the categories listed above because an annulment is more difficult to obtain than a Dissolution of Marriage. There is also a statute of limitations involved with each of the categories above. As you can see, if you are exploring the possibility of annulment, you definitely need to seek legal advice on this matter and time may be of the essence.

Some individuals are interested in seeking a religious annulment. Be forewarned that a legal annulment and a religious annulment fall within totally different categories and cannot be interchanged.

If you are granted an annulment, it is as if the marriage never existed as opposing to dissolving a marriage, where a valid marriage is terminated.

The process of obtaining an annulment is the same as obtaining a Dissolution of Marriage. An annulment requires filing a Summons and Petition and personally serving the other party with the action. You must also attend a Court hearing, at which time you will state your case to a Judge as to why your marriage is qualified to be annulled rather than going through the more standard process of dissolving your marriage. If you are successful in obtaining an annulment, each party will leave the relationship with his/her separate property, and child custody and visitation orders must be obtained if there are minor children from this relationship.

If you are not successful in qualifying for an annulment, then your marriage is deemed a legal one and you must obtain a Dissolution of Marriage.

The burden of proof will be upon you to prove that you legally fall under one of the categories listed above. It is easy to understand, therefore, that you will likely need the assistance of a Family Law Attorney if you hope to convince the court that your marriage should be nullified. You must also be able to provide your Attorney with supporting documentation that one of the specific areas of law applies in your case.

If you feel that your situation may qualify you for an Annulment, please contact the Law Offices of Bawden & Kochis. Both Attorney Richard E. Bawden and Robert A. Kochis are Certified Family Law Specialists. You will be scheduled with a one hour consultation appointment at which time your case will be discussed, in detail, and a determination can be made as to whether your case would qualify you to request an annulment.

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