Annulment Process

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Annulment of marriage is the declaration of nullity by either the religious authority of by the government on the demand of the petitioner on the specific grounds. There are various defined grounds required for the petition of annulment to be filed.

There are two types of annulment -

  1. Religious Annulment - This type of annulment is granted by the religious authority considering that the marriage was invalid right from the start. So, it is not to be considered as a marital bond, but an invalid marriage that was not conducted in a right way and something important was amiss in the ceremony.

    Under the Catholic church, an annulment is granted on the grounds of it being 'ab initio' which means 'invalid from the beginning'. Similarly, the grounds for annulment are different in every religion.

  2. Civil Annulment - This type of annulment is granted by the state on the grounds specified by the statute. The petitioner files a complaint requesting the expedition of the annulment process and the court grants it to the petitioner after gathering the evidences. The annulment is granted on various grounds such as fraud, force, concealment, etc.

Annulment Process:

Any annulment whether religious or civil has to have a process. The petitioner has to get an annulment from both the state and religious authority in order to get married in the same state and the same place of worship.

Religious Annulment Process:

  • Contact the Minister - The spouse who wishes to file for an annulment should contact the minister or pastor. He has to fill a questionnaire and submit at least two witnesses so that the petition can be filed with the church.

  • Forwarding the Petition to the Tribunal - After the completion of the documentation regarding the petitioner, the respondent and the witnesses, the petition is forwarded to the tribunal so that the tribunal considers it and proceeds.

  • Contacting the Respondent - The respondent is contacted by the tribunal and the petitioner does not have to have any contact with the respondent.

  • Gathering of the Evidence - The questionnaires are sent to both the parties and the witnesses so as to gather the evidence regarding the household responsibilities and other factors which define a successful and happy marriage. These questionnaires are used as evidences in the case, so they have to be filled carefully and in detail.

  • Publication of the Evidence - The evidence is published and presented in front of the authorities so as to facilitate the decision regarding the annulment.

    Decision - The tribunal considers all the evidence and gives its final decision regarding the validity of the marriage and whether they fulfill the criteria for the nullification of the marriage.

  • Appeal - If any party has some doubts regarding the judgment, they can make a second appeal to the tribunal and reconsider the entire case.

Civil Annulment Process:

  • Petition - The petition is filed in the family court of the state in which the petitioner or the respondent resides for at least six months prior to the date of filing the petition or the state where they got married. In case of desertion or abandonment, the petitioner is unaware of the whereabouts of the respondent. In such case, the petition can be filed as a newspaper publication.

  • Summons to the Respondent - After the filing the petition, the court sends a summons notice to the respondent. The respondent is supposed to send an answer within the 15 days of sending a summons notice. In case of newspaper publication, 30 days are given to respond.

  • Investigation Report - The public prosecutor investigates whether there is any collusion between the parties and whether they have a firm ground to ask for an annulment. This report is submitted by the prosecutor to the judge so that they can arrive at a judgment.

  • Pre-trial Meeting - A meeting is conducted between both the parties and issues as well as the grounds are discussed.

  • Trial - The trial is conducted on the basis of the evidence gathered and the report prepared by the public prosecutor.

  • Decision - After the trial, the decision is made according to the evidence and the investigation report. The court comes to a decision whether the annulment is to be granted to the couple and the final decision is made.

  • Issuance of the Annulment - The annulment is issued and the public records are changed accordingly. The registration of annulment is done with the family court, the public offices etc.

    Appeal - If any party has a query or doubt regarding the decision, they can file a reconsideration appeal at the same court and get the case to be retried.

However, an annulment process is lengthy and time-consuming as people don't respond on the time specified and the evidence gathering may take time as per the situation of the couple.

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