After a marriage annulment, it’s as if your marriage never happened. The Annulment Decree is retroactive (unlike a divorce), and your marriage is now declared legally invalid. The three most common reasons for annulment are:
- Bigamy and that the spouse was already married at the time of your marriage
- Fraud and that the spouse turns out to be not who or what they had appeared to be at the time of the marriage
- Mental incompetence
This can take many forms. Perhaps the spouse turns out to be incapable of having sexual intercourse. One spouse may have been drunk or drugged at the time of the marriage. Something about the identity of one spouse may have been represented or concealed, so that they turn out to be a first cousin (which is illegal on grounds of consanguinity), or under a sentence of life imprisonment, addicted to some substance, in possession of a prior criminal record, or infected with a sexually-transmitted disease. Perhaps their age was misrepresented and they are too young to be married, although if the marriage lasts far beyond that spouse’s reaching marriageable age, an annulment may be denied.
In an annulment, the innocent spouse can apply to the court for relief. They may be granted a share of the community property, spousal and/or child support, and payment of their attorney’s fees.
To be granted an annulment based on fraud, you would be wise to discontinue cohabitation as soon as you discover the fraud. If you are still living with that spouse when you apply for annulment, the court may well consider that the two of you have somehow resolved the issue, and therefore it is not a reason for an annulment.
Other things to consider are that:
- If you have children, courts may be less willing to grant an annulment; and
- You may not necessarily receive a full share of joint property or full spousal support payments. It might be wiser to petition for a divorce.
We also offer mediation services for couples who would prefer to resolve their divorce in a more amicable manner.