Civil Annulment

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A civil annulment is usually granted by the county or state court where at least one of the spouses reside. It is difficult to obtain than divorce and is a rare occurrence owing to the difficulties in proving the cited grounds. When a couple reaches a decision to seek an annulment, it is necessary to study the statute of the concerned state so as to find the eligibility criteria or qualifying grounds for annulment.

Grounds for Civil Annulment:

The grounds for civil annulment are similar to that of the religious annulment. These grounds differ from state to state and need to be studied thoroughly before citing them as the reason for seeking annulment.

Some of the common grounds for civil annulment are as follows:

  • Consummation - Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage long after it is officiated can be a reason to obtain an annulment in almost every state of the USA. The basic function of a marriage is to procreate and not consummating the marriage seriously undermines this purpose.

  • Concealment - Concealing important facts which are crucial for a smooth-sailing marriage is a serious breach of trust that a spouse puts into the other. However, this concealment must be regarding some serious issues such as sterility, impotency, sexually transmitted diseases, hidden sexual orientation, responsibilities form a previous marriage or other reasons which hinder the normal functioning of a marriage.

  • Bigamy - Bigamy is prohibited by in every state of the USA. One is not supposed to marry a person if one is already married to a living spouse and the marriage is undissolved as yet. The only exception to this rule can be made if the supposedly living spouse was known to be dead. However, if the spouse is missing, one can still dissolve the marriage through public annulment and such a dissolution is considered legal.

  • Fraud - If one of the spouses are lured into marriage under the false pretenses or fraudulent behavior which seriously endangers the smooth functioning of a marriage, is considered as fraud. This includes homosexuality, bisexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, fetishism, sadomasochism, insanity, mental imbalance or impotency.

  • Incestuous Marriage - Marriage between the relatives by blood or by marriage is considered as consanguinity, affinity or incest. One is not supposed to marry a close relative whether or not the relationship is legitimate or not. Some states do not have any directives about the marriages between the relatives by marriage (affinity) whereas consanguinity is prohibited in every state in the USA.

  • Force - If either of the spouses is forced to marry the other one by the means of threats, coercion or holding them at a gunpoint, such a marriage is considered as void and it has to be annulled. Force cannot be a base of any marriage as it does not consider every individual's right to a free will and a free consent regarding such an important decision in their life.

  • Underage Marriage - When either of the spouses is under the legal marriageable age, such a marriage is considered as void ab initio and has to be annulled. In some states, the legal marriageable age is 18 while in some it is 16. in case of teen pregnancy or other emergency reasons if the couple decided to marry, some states require a parental or guardian consent in order for the marriage to be considered legal.

  • Mental Illness - Temporary or permanent insanity or mental illness which is ought to relapse can be a firm ground for the annulment in most of the states. However, the allegations need to be proved by asking for the medical certificate or the psychiatrist or therapist to testify in the court. This is due to the fact a mental illness or a disorder is bound to deteriorate the patient's health and render them incapable to take care of their family as well to provide for their basic needs.

These are some of the basic common grounds for the states in the USA to grant the annulment. However, it should be noted that for a civil annulment to be granted, one must be able to prove these grounds with the help of exhibits, documents and witnesses. The court will decide whether these proofs are substantial and the annulment is not granted until the adequate proofs are not submitted.

Basics of Civil Annulment:

There are some basics of annulment which are to be noted before one decides to file for an annulment. These are as follows:

  • After an annulment is granted, the marriage becomes non-existent in the eyes of law.
  • The property division does not take place if the marriage has lasted for only a short period of time; whereas for the marriages which have lasted for a considerable period of time, property division is done and other marital issues are also addressed if minor children are involved.
  • The children born or adopted during the marriage are considered as legitimate and both the spouses have equal responsibility.
  • The civil annulment is different and totally separate from the catholic or religious annulment. Some states specify a time line so as to when can a couple file for an annulment according to the grounds cited.
  • If the couple has been cohabiting or indulging in sexual relations, the marriage is ratified and annulment cannot be granted whatever the grounds. The only exceptions are prohibited marriages such as incestuous, same-sex, bigamy and underage marriage.

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