Marriage Annulment

A marriage annulment is a legal procedure which states that a marriage has been dissolved. The main difference between an annulment and a divorce is that the annulment treats the marriage as it never happened in the first place. Some couples prefer annulling their marriage rather than getting a divorce, especially during the early stages of the marriage as it has lesser negative connotations associated with it. Annulment generally takes place when one of the two partners involved in the marriage discovers that the other partner had lied about his/her full identity or has an unfavorable past record.

There are two main types of annulment, civil and religious. Both types can be related to each other in cases where the couple want their marriage to get annulled on both religious as well as legal grounds. There can be a number of different reasons why a couple would want to get their marriage annulled and these reasons need to be legally proven in a court of law before the judge can take the final decision of annulment of the marriage. The finer annulment laws across the United States may differ to some extent from one state to another. However, there may be a few laws that are unique to a particular state.

Differences between Annulment and Divorce

Although both annulment and divorce signal the end of a marriage, there are significant differences between the two legal procedures in terms of how it is treated by the court. After an annulment, the marriage is treated as it never existed in the first place because it was not legal to begin with. On the other hand, in a divorce, the period when the couple were married is still recognized and the final date of the marriage is noted on legal records. While most cases of annulment take place few weeks or months after the marriage, divorces can even take place after a couple has been married for several years.

Chief reasons behind marriage annulment

A number of different reasons can cause the annulment of a marriage. Some of them have been explained below:

  • Concealing information from partner This is the most common reason behind all annulments that take place. After getting married, if one partner finds out information about the other that was previously hidden and if disclosed, could have prevented the marriage in the first place, they can seek annulment in a court of law. The usual things that are hidden in such cases are drug or alcohol addiction, past criminal record, sexually transmitted diseases and chronic medical conditions.

  • Giving false information While concealing information is definitely a factor, marriages can also be annulled on the grounds that one of the partners provided false information with regards to past marriage history or age. Annulment in such cases are generally granted without hesitation and further inquiries.

  • Inability to consummate the marriage The inability of one of the partners to consummate the marriage by means of sexual intercourse is reason that can be used to annul the marriage. Refusal to do the same is also considered as grounds for annulment of the marriage.

  • Differences in opinion on major grounds While differences in opinion exist in any marriage or relationship, if a married couple cannot agree on something as big as having children or sacrificing one's professional goals for personal life, it may act as a reason for annulment of the marriage. This reason is not as common as the other ones as most people prefer resolving their issues than ending the marriage.

  • Other reasons

There are a few other grounds on which a person can file for annulment such as finding out that they have a blood relation with the spouse, forceful marriage or in instances of domestic violence.

Religious Annulment

The Catholic Church declares a marriage annulled if it does meet the predefined criteria set by them. If two catholic individuals get married outside a church, the marriage contract is considered defective by the church authorities. Similarly, other reasons such as forceful marriage or instances of multiple marriages by a single individual are considered defective and lead to annulment from the Catholic Church. One of the two partners has to petition to the Church to annul their marriage so that they can either remarry or continue living their lives as a single person. The Church authorities investigate the matter thoroughly and take a decision of either annulling the marriage or rejecting the annulment appeal. The general grounds of annulment considered by the Catholic Church are different from that of a court of law.

Annulment Procedure

In case of civil annulments, one has to file a petition for annulments in a court of law and state the grounds on which they are seeking it. A number of forms and paperwork has to be filled during this process and after paying a filing fee the person will receive a hearing date which he/she has to attend.

Marriage annulment is often confused with divorce, however it differs from the latter not only in practical ways, but also in terms of legal procedures and laws.

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