Sometimes a wedding is a mistake, and not just because your spouse snores, is a slob, or a shopaholic. For other reasons, a marriage should have never taken place, and an annulment is appropriate.
An annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage and, in effect, dismisses it like it was a figment of someone's imagination. Much like divorce, an annulment is far from simple. But with some research and preparation, the annulment process can be very manageable.
- provide reasonable proof
- hire a family law attorney
- become familiar with state laws
- know that children will complicate an annulment
- assume it’s the same as a divorce
- go through it alone
- let embarrassment stop you
- forget to properly fill out all required paperwork
While you can get a divorce for a variety of reasons, not so with an annulment. Typically, you will need to prove that there was misrepresentation or fraud. It could be that one of you said you wanted to have children, but didn't. Maybe a serious illness was hidden or one of you was underage. It could also be that one of you was was not of sound mind when signing on the dotted line, or that you two were unable to consummate the marriage, for example.
Because you will need to prepare a petition for annulment and go through the court system, you will want legal help from an attorney who specializes in family law. You will have to go through a court proceeding, and much like a divorce case, both people will tell their stories. In the end, the judge will issue an annulment decree, stating that your marriage is over and never existed. The judge will also weigh in on any other issues, be it the division of property or debts, custody of children, or something else.
It may be that many annulments happen during the first two years or less of marriage, if it's been longer than that, it doesn't mean the opportunity to file for an annulment doesn't exist. Most state laws do not place time limits on when you must file for an annulment. Be sure to check on the laws in your state.
Understand that if there are children born of this union, there will be issues of custody, visitation, and child support to resolve with the annulment. Keep in mind that fighting for custody should be more about the betterment of the children than what you would prefer. An annulment and dissolved marriage already rocks one stable foundation for children, so keep in mind that a battle for custody itself, and the resulting custody rights, could very easily disturb another stability in the child’s life.
Although both parents may have been poor spouses for each other, it doesn’t mean they were bad parents. Work well together in agreeing on custody and visitation rights, and work selflessly to approve an appropriate sum of child support. When it comes to an annulment, both parties should do everything in their powers to work selflessly when approving a custody and financial support plan for sake of their children.
Some people mistakenly think that an annulment is only a religious matter. While some churches will declare a marriage invalid, know that this frequently happens after the couple has already gotten a divorce.
Although you are not getting a divorce, the rules and laws are complex. Don't assume you can go through it alone. Be prepared to hire a qualified, family law attorney who has experience with annulment cases.
While getting an annulment doesn’t come without its complications and embarrassment, consider if staying in a marriage for years that you don’t want to be be a part of is more or less embarrassing than an annulment. Marriages that shouldn’t happen, still happen, and if you and your spouse discover that that was the case and trying to make it work is out of the question, it’s best to have an annulment than a terrible marriage.
Just as with any legal action in a marriage—be it divorce, legal separation, or an annulment—there is always paperwork involved. If one or both parties seeking the annulment fail to properly fill out a form, or leave a form out entirely from the whole of the filed paperwork, it will complicate and delay the process. This can also cost the filer more if fees are involved. Sometimes paperwork is lost due to human error after it is filed, so be sure to make at least 2 copies of all the forms before filing them. Having an experienced family law attorney review the forms can also be helpful to ensure you only have to do it once.
Annulment is different from divorce, but still requires legal representation and a court case. Be sure your circumstances meet the requirements for an annulment, and not a divorce, before you proceed with annulment preparations. The process will not be simple. Get legal help from an attorney specializing in family law who can represent you and help you absolve a marriage that should never have been.