What is an annulment?
An annulment is the termination or reversal of a marriage wherein a court finds that the marriage is void. In other words, the marriage was not properly entered into by the parties and is thus reversed and treated as if it never legally existed. Because the marriage was not ever properly entered into in the first place, you do not need to have a divorce or have your marriage dissolved. Instead, from a legally prospective, the marriage never really fully occurred. Annulments are rare.
Some classic examples of annulment:
Example 1 – A farmer shows up at your doorstep with his daughter and he puts a gun to your head. He then says, “I think you need to marry my daughter after what happened last night,” Out of fear for your life you agree. You are led at gunpoint to a preacher, you hold her hand, and you are married. You immediately run to a family law lawyer and explain that you didn’t want nor mean to marry. That is a voidable marriage where you could receive an annulment.
Example 2 – You wake up after a long night in Las Vegas. You have no idea who is next to you in bed, and you find out that you got married the night before. You run to a lawyer and say, “I don’t remember marrying this person, we never consummated the marriage (had sexual relations), and I want to make sure this piece of paper gets voided.” That would be an annulment.
Example 3 – You marry someone who is currently legally married to someone else. Because a legally married person cannot by law legally be the subject of a new marriage, the second (later) marriage does not legally exist and can be annulled. This particular type of annulment will occur even if sexual relations did take place after the marriage ceremony.
Example 4 – There are numerous examples of marriages where one party only gets married in order to assist with becoming a citizen of the United States. The other party does not realize this and sexual relations do not occur thereafter. Many of these marriages can be annulled as opposed to being dissolved.
There are other concepts of annulment that are more common or realistic, such as somebody getting married with the presumption they are going to be able to have sexual relations with somebody else, and they find out later that the other person has no capacity for sexual relations, and thus they never consummate the marriage. That also could result in an annulment if it happened soon thereafter.
For practical purposes, most people who think of an annulment really are thinking of a tragically-short marriage that should have never occurred.
If two people get married and soon thereafter have dramatic disagreements, including the hiding of people’s pasts, but they consummated the marriage through having sex — it is in precious few cases that an annulment can be granted. Instead, they will be granted a divorce.
What does it take to get an annulment?
In the simplest cases you either need to be married against your free will or married without understanding that a marriage is occurring. However, sometimes an annulment can be granted when a core basis of a marriage is agreed to but does not exist, such as the ability to consummate the marriage through sexual relations. Most potential annulment requests are denied if the marriage is consummated after the ceremony by the parties engaging in sexual relations.
How about: Hey, my spouse never told me he was a spy (or he was secretly gay) now I’ve spent a year and a half of marriage with him and now realize he is a spy (or has been gay), but we have been engaging in sexual relations. That is not an annulment.
Do both parties have to be in agreement to get an annulment?
No, both parties do not need to be in agreement. If one party wants an annulment and they can meet the burden of proof that is required for annulments then that party alone can force an annulment. If the farmer’s daughter does not want an annulment, but the man does, the man can still get an annulment.
More on the legal side, what does it take to get an annulment?
It generally requires that: 1) you never gave your free will and consent to be married, or 2) you never knowingly or intentionally married, or 3) you did intentionally marry, but soon thereafter realized that the entire basis, or a big portion of the basis for the marriage, was a fraud, or 4) One of the parties was not legally capable of being married.
Why choose the Anton Legal Group for assistance with an annulment?
Our law firm is dedicated to knowing the Florida laws and statutes for nearly all areas of family law. The laws are updated on a regular basis and we feel it is vital to our clients to be properly informed. Because we understand the law, we are able to help our clients effectively apply it to their particular circumstances.