Annulment law is the legal process of declaring a marriage void. It is a procedure which only makes the questionable unions void. If it is a legal marriage, you can only go for divorce. To nullify an already void marriage legally, you require a court of law’s legal declaration of annulment. Marriage can be annulled or declared as never being valid by a court of law due to various reasons.
The reasons on which court can declare a marriage as void are:
- When one spouse is below the legal marriageable age (too young to marry).
- When there is a close biological relationship between the two spouses i.e. child and parent, stepchild and parent, nephew and aunt, niece and uncle or grandchild and grandparent.
- When it is a forced marriage.
- Due to non-disclosure of previously existing marriage by one spouse. In such a case the marriage is counted as bigamous.
- Due to mental (both temporary and permanent) or physical incapability
- Concealment of divorce by one of the spouses
- Fraud (concealment of sterility/impotence, STD disease and a criminal record)
The law of annulment differs from state to state; it is advised to approach a divorce lawyer in your state for consultation.
A person may file a petition with the court stating the grounds on which his/her marriage should be annulled.
Marriage annulments occur shortly after the marriage has taken place. As there are no marital assets or children in a short time of marriage, issues like division of property and child custody or child support may not arise. But in case the annulment is filed after a longer period, annulment laws of different states enforce distribution of property and temporary alimony laws.
The court, call for the hearing, gathers facts based on the petition filed. Case starts with preliminary hearing of contestants, if found, that the petitioner has made a correct application, the judge declares the marriage void.
After receiving a decree of annulment from the court the couple can apply for annulment through a catholic church, so that both can start a new married life.*
* Annulment laws vary from religion to religion. Here we are discussing Annulment laws in legal sense only.
Legitimacy of Children
In cases where there are children from the marital relationship, issue of legitimacy of children is raised. According to the law of country and law of church, children born from such relationships, are legitimate. The status of children remains the same as in the case of divorce.
In some jurisdictions, if there are children involved, a court may refuse to annul a marriage. To end such a voidable marriage, you will have to file for a divorce.