File for Annulment

Divorce Papers » File for Annulment

Annulment is different than a divorce or a legal separation. It wipes the marriage off the records as though it never happened. After an annulment is granted, the marriage becomes non-existent in the eyes of law. How to file for annulment is a question encountered by the couples who have discovered a certain condition or a situation, which renders their marriage null and void and thus has to be annulled legally.

Process of Filing for Annulment:

The process of filing for annulment depends upon the type of annulment. There are different processes for filing for the different types of annulment. The generic process is as follows:

  • One needs to file an application at the local county court where at least one of the spouses reside.
  • The petition is filed at the court and a summons is served to the other party. The residency requirement needs to be met so as to be eligible for an annulment.
  • In case the respondent's whereabouts are unknown, the summons is served through the publication in newspaper.
  • The public prosecutor prepares an investigation report and confirms whether the cited grounds are real and not lies or fraud just to obtain annulment.
  • The exhibits, witnesses and documentation are verified in order to make a decision.

Types of Annulment:

There are two types of annulment. These are as follows:

  1. Civil Annulment - An annulment which is granted by the judge and where the trial is carried in the family court, such an annulment is known as civil annulment.

  2. Religious Annulment - Annulment granted by the religious authority such as the church or the synagogue is known as religious annulment.

Civil annulment is entirely different from religious annulment and one has to file for both the annulments separately. Both are legal and are required in order for the couple to be able to remarry. The civil annulment is granted by the judge whereas the religious annulment is granted by the minister, the rabbi or the concerned religious authority of the particular religion.

As mentioned above, the process for both these annulments is different and one has to file separately for obtaining both the annulments. However, not all couples opt for both the annulments. The couples who are affiliated to one religious body or the other usually opt for a religious annulment rather than civil so that they can remain the members of their religious bodies forever. The couples who are not religious (mainly young couples) do not seek a religious annulment and go only for civil.

Types of Marriage:

There are two types of marriages which are eligible to file for an annulment. These are as follows:

  1. Void Marriage - A marriage which is invalid right from its inception is known as void marriage. Some important element is amiss from the ceremony or the couple is simply not supposed to marry.

  2. Voidable Marriage - A voidable marriage is valid until there arises a situation or a discovery which renders the marriage invalid. Such marriages are valid for some time before they turn invalid.

The examples of void marriages are prohibited marriages such as incestuous, bigamous, underage or same-sex marriage. These marriages are ones which should never be as they are prohibited by the state law. Such marriages are considered as void ab initio, i.e. invalid from the beginning.

The voidable marriages are the marriages conducted by fraud, force or where either of the spouses is mentally or physically incapable for smooth functioning of a marriage.

Annulment is retroactive. Rather then ending a marriage, it wipes it off as if it never happened. The spouses return to their pre-marital status and are free to remarry.

Grounds for Annulment:

Every state has a specific set of grounds when it comes to the granting of annulment. It is a rare occurrence due to the difficulty in proving the grounds cited as the reason for applying for annulment. Most of the states do not favor annulment. Instead, they advise a couple to go for a divorce which is an easier and quick option as compared to the annulment. This is a generic set of grounds which can be cited in order to get an annulment:

  • Fraud is an important grounds for applying for annulment. This could include anything from concealing an important information to committing a fraud in order to lure a person into the wedlock. Concealing important information such as responsibilities of previous marriage, sterility, sexually transmitted diseases, impotency or any other information which is crucial for a marital relationship to work out.

  • Marriage between relatives such as parent - child, uncle - niece, aunt - nephew, step-parent - step-child, cousins, siblings, grandparent - grandchild or any other relations by blood or by marriage is considered as incest.

  • A spouse made to enter a marriage under the threats or coercion can be termed as force which is one of the firm grounds on which basis annulment is granted in many states.

  • Mental immaturity to understand the significance of a marital relationship and the willingness or lack of it to make the marriage work can be also the grounds for annulment.

  • Marrying a person when other partner lives without dissolving the previous marriage is considered bigamy which is prohibited by the law.

  • Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage forms the strong ground for an annulment to be granted as it endangers the functioning of a marriage.

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