Annulment in Maryland

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Annulment is a rare occurrence in Maryland due to the strict rules formulated by the statute. The annulment depends on the type of marriage the couple had and the grounds defined by the statute of Maryland. There are two types of marriages which define the grounds for annulment and none other reason can be cited in order to achieve an annulment in the state of Maryland.

Annulment Process in Maryland:

There is a specific procedure to be followed in order to get an annulment in Maryland. This procedure is as follows:

  • File a petition at the county court where you are residing.
  • Attach all the details of your marriage including your names and the date you were married on.
  • Cite the ground on which you are planning to file for an annulment. Wait for the spouse to respond.
  • The spouse may either respond to the charges or counter-file for divorce.
  • If he / she responds to the suit, the hearing takes place and if he / she files for divorce, the case is transferred to the divorce court.

The courts in Maryland usually do not favor the granting of annulment; instead, they encourage the couple to file for divorce.

Types of Marriage Eligible for Annulment in Maryland:

  1. Void Marriage - The marriage which is invalid right from its inception is known as a void marriage. It cannot be legalized even after the consummation and has to be annulled.

  2. Voidable Marriage - The marriage which is valid until one of the spouses finds something which renders the marriage invalid and can be annulled on the basis.

Grounds for Annulment in Maryland:

The grounds for annulment in Maryland have been divided under the types of marriages as mentioned above. Let's have a detailed look at these grounds under these categories. We will start with grounds for annulment of void marriages followed by the grounds for annulment of voidable marriages:

  • Void Marriage - The grounds for the annulment of void marriages are as follows:
    • Incestuous Marriage - When a marriage takes place between blood relatives or people related by marriage, such a marriage is termed as incest. An incestuous marriage is prohibited by the law and thus is deemed null and void right from the time it was conducted. Such a marriage is void ab initio and thus can be annulled on the same grounds.

    • Bigamous Marriage - When a person marries someone when he is already married to someone else and that marriage hasn't been dissolved, such a marriage is considered as bigamy. A bigamous marriage is prohibited and thus illegitimate. Such a marriage can be annulled on the grounds of bigamy as it void ab initio.

    • Underage Marriage - If either of the spouse is under the legal marriageable age during the ceremony, such a marriage is considered as void ab initio. It is null as free consent, will, parental consent or maturity cannot be assumed. Thus, these marriages can be annulled on the grounds of being underage only if the underage spouse wants an annulment.

  • Voidable Marriage - The grounds for the annulment of voidable marriage are as follows:
    • Fraud - If a partner has concealed some important information from the spouse while marrying with the intent of getting him / her to marry, such a marriage is considered as fraud. These secrets could pertain to the monthly income, responsibilities of a previous relationship, hidden sexual preference, mental illness or anything which seriously endangers the well-being of the marriage as well as the individuals stuck in such a marriage.

      These types of marriages are carried out on the basis of fraud that can be annulled on this sole ground after submitting the extraneous proofs of fraud.

    • Duress - If a spouse is forced to enter a wedlock against his / her wish with the help of threats, coercion or abuse (popularly known as gunshot marriage), such a marriage becomes voidable as free consent in not sought and the whole wedding becomes a sham.

      Duress is one of the primary causes for seeking annulment. Be it emotional blackmail or outright pointing of gun, such marriages are annulled at the earliest on the sole ground of force or duress.

    • Intoxication - If the couple was in an inebriated state due to excessive alcohol consumption or under the influence of drugs or a medication at the time of the wedding, such a wedding cannot be considered as valid and thus can be annulled on the sole basis of intoxication after the couple testifies so in front of the judge.

      The drunken state needs to be proved through witnesses and other external proofs which support the testimony of the husband and the wife.

After the annulment is granted, the court tries to restore the pre-marital status and property of the couple. However, they may get the court order regarding the guardianship, support, visitation in case the children are involved. In such cases, the property can also be divided as per the state rules.

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