Getting an annulment

Sometimes a wedding is a mistake, and not just because your spouse snores, is a slob or a shopaholic. For other reasons, a marriage should have never taken place and an annulment is appropriate.

An annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage and in effect dismisses it like it was a figment of someone's imagination. Much like divorce,it is far from simple.

Do's

Do your circumstances meet the requirements?

While you can get a divorce for a variety of reasons, not so with an annulment. Typically, you will need to prove that there was a misrepresentation or fraud, that something critical was hidden like massive debt, or perhaps one of you was underage. It could be that one of you was was not of sound mind when signing on the dotted line, or you that you two were unable to consummate the marriage, for example.

Get legal help

Because you will need to prepare a petition for annulment and go through the court system, you will want legal help from an attorney who specializes in family law. You will have go through a court proceeding, and much like a divorce case, both people will tell their stories. In the end, the judge will issue an annulment decree, stating that your marriage is over and never existed. The judge will also weigh in on any other issues, like the division of property and debts, and custody of children, for example.

The clock isn't ticking

It may be that many annulments happen during the first two years or less of marriage, if it's been longer than that, it doesn't mean the opportunity to file for an annulment doesn't exist. Most state laws do not place time limits on when you must file for an annulment. Be sure to check on the laws in your state.

Don'ts

It's not all about religion

Some people mistakenly think that an annulment is only a religious matter. While some churches will declare a marriage invalid, know that frequently this happens after the couple has already gotten a divorce.

Don't underestimate

Although you are not getting a divorce, the rules and laws are complex. Don't assume you can go it alone. Be prepared to hire a qualified, family law attorney who has experience with annulment cases.

Categories: Overview