Annulment in NC
What is Annulment in NC?
Annulment in NC is a type of remedy which is available to individuals who are in a voidable marriage. Receiving an annulment of a marriage treats the marriage like it never existed. This is different from an absolute divorce, which dissolves a marriage after a period of separation.
What Types of Marriages Can be Annulled?
As mentioned above, only voidable marriages can be annulled in North Carolina. The following types of marriages are considered voidable in NC:
- A party to the marriage is underage (under 16 or under 18 if the marriage was procured by fraud);
- A party to the marriage lacks of mental capacity to marry;
- A party to the marriage has a degree of kinship nearer than first cousins (including double first cousins);
- A party to the marriage is physically impotent; or
- A party to the marriage misrepresents pregnancy.
How Can Someone Have a Marriage Annulled?
To receive an annulment, generally, only the party with the legal disability may file a case with the court. There is an exception to this rule. In instances where a license to marry has been procured by any person under the age of eighteen by fraud, a parent, institution, or legal guardian may bring and action to have the marriage annulled.
The party with the legal disability will bear the burden of proof in showing that their marriage is either voidable or void altogether. It is recommended that any individual who is seeking an annulment seek out a family law attorney for assistance with this type of claim.
Ratification of a Voidable Marriage
Just because a marriage is voidable does not mean that it needs to be annulled. If the parties to a marriage want to stay married, the party with the legal disability may ratify their marriage through his or her own conduct. For example, if a party to a marriage was underage at the time of the marriage, they may ratify the otherwise voidable marriage by the time they turn eighteen. If a marriage that was voidable has been ratified, it can no longer be annulled.
Difference Between Void and Voidable Marriages
A voidable marriage is not a nullity from its very beginning and it can be later ratified by the party with a legal disability. A void marriage is considered a nullity from its very start, so it cannot be ratified. Bigamy is the only type of void marriage in North Carolina. Bigamy is where a person who is already married goes through a marriage with another person.
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