Why annulments are so rare – Sometimes in social settings we are asked a wide variety of legal questions that make us realize that a lot of people get a large portion of their legal information from watching television.  Sometimes they are TV dramas that are intending to have a dramatic effect for entertainment purposes, so it makes sense that things are not necessarily accurate, but people don’t always realize that.  Other times they get information from news reports about celebrities. While these reports are supposed to be true, often they are reporting on things that are either rare or that don’t necessarily apply to the state that you live in.

In this blog, we will talk about an often mis-understood area of family law – annulments. Specifically, we will describe what an annulment is and why it is almost never applicable to most situations.  Like all of our family law blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a family law attorney.

What is an annulment?

A divorce severs the ties of matrimony and has the legal affect of ending a marriage. An annulment, however, is different in that the purpose of one is to retroactively declare a marriage null and void, effectively legally stating that the marriage never occurred in the first place.

Unlike with a divorce, there are no provisions for alimony or equitable distribution when a marriage has been annulled.

How can someone get an annulment?

Parties cannot get their marriages annulled arbitrarily.  In fact, only certain marriages would be eligible for annulment and those would be voidable marriages.  Voidable marriages occur when there are certain facts and circumstances in place that made it illegal for the marriage to have remained legally binding in the first place. Some examples of voidable marriage are as follows:

  • The parties got married because one of the parties misrepresented a pregnancy
  • One of the parties lacked the mental capacity to get married at the time of the marriage
  • The parties to the marriage have a degree of kinship closer than first cousins
  • At least one of the parties to the marriage was not old enough to get married

It is only when one of the above-mentioned situations or a different voidable marriage that we haven’t mentioned that an annulment can apply.  These situations are exceedingly rare and that is why annulments are rare.  Typically, when parties are ending their marriage, a divorce is the appropriate action.

If you are in need of a family law attorney, contact us.

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