The fastest process by which a marriage can be dissolved is the annulment. Unlike other processes, which require cooperation of parties to sever the marriage agreement, an annulment voids the marriage almost as if time travel were involved. It goes from a thing that happened to a thing that, from a legal standpoint, never existed.
Annulments have benefits over other dissolutions besides speed. For purpose of legal documents and titles, an annulment reverts all changes made to their previous state. For benefits or any other legal documentation, it is not fraud to list one’s self as single rather than divorced.
To qualify for an annulment a couple needs to show that there was a problem with the marriage that qualifies under the law. The first category for this is automatic. If a couple is found to be blood related as second cousins or closer, the marriage is reverted. If a former spouse is found to be living without a divorce in place, that also reverts the new marriage.
The second category of annulments are voidable if there is a problem with legal standing. This happens in cases such as a couple in which one of the participants is an unemancipated minor without guardian consent. Outright fraud also falls into this category. Finally, both want of understanding and grounds for declaring a contract void in equity create annulment opportunities if enforced.
Want of understanding is a legal condition. This covers both mental disability and inequality resulting in a ‘no meeting of the minds’.
Grounds for declaring a contract void in equity includes acts such as an arranged marriage or a marriage engaged in under some form of duress. Any assertion that would create a breech in a contract can qualify under this category of annulments.
Despite the conventional belief shown in movies and books, annulments don’t have a set timeline that they can be enacted in. An annulment for one of the above reasons, especially the first category of automatic annulment, may happen years after the marriage was entered into.
Children conceived within an annulled marriage are considered legitimate. Property acquired during the marriage is divided equally. Alimony cannot be awarded in annulments linked to fraud or bad faith such as grounds for declaring a contract void in equity.
Residency matters as well. An annulment sought in a state requires one of the party members be a resident of that state for at least six weeks.
Despite the reversion of legal status, annulments don’t always count as void from the date of the initial marriage contract. They may be counted from the time of the annulment decree. The discretion between these two dating methods are done on a case by case basis.
Seeking an annulment isn’t as simple as the process itself. Getting an annulment granted makes many elements of a marriage dissolution easy but seeking the status itself requires proof of the legal issues.
If you feel your marriage may be the result of fraud or coercion or if you have found out that your marriage may be voidable and want to seek clarification, contact 702-706-3323 to learn more. We’re here to help provide counsel and information.