There are times when the terms of a marriage contract are treated in such a way that the law seeks to recognize that the marriage itself should have not been allowed to progress as originally agreed to. Under such circumstances, the law provides annulment as an alternative to divorce. When an individual seeks an annulment, he or she essentially asks the courts to behave as if the marriage had never taken place. This stands in contrast to divorce, which asks the courts to break up a consensual and biding marital contract. Most marriage contracts remain binding until they are officially dissolved by the courts, which is why annulments are so rarely granted. In approving an annulment, a judge is essentially conceding that no valid marital contract existed between the two parties in the first place.
Situations Eligible for Annulment
It is important to understand that the circumstances under which annulments are granted tend to be quite limited. It is also worth noting that state laws related to eligible circumstances vary. As a result, it is generally a good idea to speak with an attorney who practices in the state where you plan to seek an annulment before committing to this course of action. Once an experienced family law attorney learns more about the details of your marriage, he or she will be able to advise you of your options and devise a legal strategy moving forward. If you do end up being eligible to seek an annulment, your attorney will help you petition the court accordingly.
Most successful annulments involve marriages that were entered into based upon fraud, misrepresentation or a failure to disclose critically important information. Other common reasons couples seek annulments include illegal activity related to the marital contract (such as bigamy) and inability to legally form contracts due to age restrictions or lack of mental capacity. In addition to medical reasons one might lack capacity to sign a valid contract, extreme drunkenness or drug-induced highs may result in a lack of legal capacity. Temporary insanity and inability to consummate a marriage may also be recognized as valid reasons for an annulment under state law.
It should be noted that civil annulments are distinct from religious annulments. If you are interested in having the law annul your marriage, an attorney will be able to help you. If you seek to have the church recognize an annulment, you will need to research how religious members of your faith go about submitting such a petition.
Annulment Assistance Is Available
If you believe that your marital situation may be eligible for an annulment, please consider connecting with an experienced family law attorney today. The longer you wait, the fewer marital dissolution options may be available to you. Although divorces are not generally time-sensitive under state law, annulments can be. As a result, it is generally a good idea to speak with an attorney as soon as you begin contemplating an annulment so that a legal professional can advise you of your options. Even if you ultimately choose not to seek an annulment, speaking with a family law attorney Austin, TX relies on will help to ensure that your decision is as informed as it can be.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Offices of Ryan S. Dougay for their insight into family law and annulments.