Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Can I get my marriage annulled instead of getting divorced?

Obtaining an annulment for your marriage instead of a divorce has numerous benefits. The annulment "wipes the slate clean." Instead of the usual divorce proceedings, an annulment clears the court records as if the marriage never happened. Unfortunately, annulments are reserved for a very small portion of the married population.  Whenever a celebrity, like Brittany Spears in 2004, successfully receives an annulment, public interest increases. The truth is however, that for most of us, they are almost impossible to get approved by the courts. Problems arise due to the lack of laws addressing annulments. It is a risky process, as you may follow the model of other annulments only to find the judge deny it in the end. However, for a few married couples, it is a possibility. Those who are eligible generally fall within these guidelines:

  • A marriage lasting 6 months or less
  • When extreme deception/fraud was used by one party such as a stolen identity, a spouse who is still married to someone else, illegal immigrant, etc.
  • Forced marriage or if the marriage took place while in an incapacitated state (under the      influence of alcohol, drugs, unconscious, etc.)
  • Certain physical/sexual misrepresentations such as someone who has mislead his spouse regarding his true gender, knowingly withholding knowledge of sterility/infertility until married, STD's, a marriage that was never consummated, etc.
  • Major lifestyle misunderstandings prior to marriage such as the desire to have a family, or which country you'll reside in while married

Even while meeting criteria above, obtaining an annulment is not guaranteed. As stated above, there are few laws to govern annulments and the decision will ultimately be made by the judge. If granted however, you will be lucky enough to be registered as "never married" instead of divorced. For more information regarding an annulment and your eligibility, please contact my office to discuss all your options.