Divorce is the most common way that a marriage ends. However, there is another option if you can meet all the requirements. That is through the process of annulment. When granted, it determines that the marriage was never valid and is therefore considered void. This can be an appealing option for many, particularly those with religious or cultural objections to marriage. However, the rules are very strict, and only certain couples qualify.
Because annulments are not that widespread, they can easily become confusing, and false assumptions can occur. Therefore, it is important to understand what they are, how they work, and why they exist. This may help you or someone you know find the right resolution to the dissolution of their marriage.
The three ways that couples seek to legally create distance between themselves and their marriage are:
Annulments are only allowed when a marriage is considered invalid. This may seem ambiguous because a person is either married or they are not. However, there are certain unlawful situations in which two people enter into a marriage.
According to the New York annulment statute, there are five grounds for which a marriage could be voided. These include:
Even if a marriage falls into one or more of these voidable categories, it is not automatic that an annulment will take place. If, for example, a couple qualifies for annulment because they chose to marry at the age of 16, but they are now 21 and attempting to dissolve the marriage, they would not qualify. The reason for this is that, while the marriage was illegal when it occurred, once they were of legal age, they chose to continue cohabiting with one another after they both reached the age of consent.
In another situation, a spouse may have been defrauded by the other, but they stay together after the fraud has been revealed. They may not use an annulment because there is now knowledge of the fraud and a choice to continue was made.
Another way that an annulment can apply is if the marriage was void from the beginning. Examples of void marriages include:
If a marriage qualifies for an annulment, the process is just as, if not more, complicated than a divorce. Divorces can be filed uncontested, which allows spouses to avoid a courtroom trial. However, annulments must be litigated in a courtroom. There must also be a presentation of evidence that proves one of the five qualifying categories applies to the marriage.
Although annulment and divorce are two separate processes, they do share a common ground. They must reach a settlement on many of the same concerns facing married couples. These include:
The same considerations are applied to annulments in these situations as to any divorce. The two parties involved still:
They may also have started a family, for whom they are still responsible.
For a marriage to be considered for annulment, it must take place within the first five years of the marriage. Whether the marriage is void from the start or there are reasons to invalidate it, time plays a role in the annulment. If a marriage is considered invalidated but, upon learning of the circumstances, the marriage continues, the couple may be forced to divorce instead of annulling.
Annulments are a legal ruling that a marriage is void or invalid. These rulings are similar to a divorce in that they legally end a marriage. An annulment must be tried in a courtroom in front of a judge. The proceedings will include evidence to prove the marriage to be invalid as well as any corroborating witnesses.
The first step to an annulment in New York is to file a petition and subsequent paperwork with the court. Supporting documentation will include necessary evidence for your case as well as a list of witness information. Your attorney will be able to assist with filing the paperwork and ensuring everything is correctly filled out.
The costs for an annulment can vary depending on:
To file for an annulment will cast $395. When you speak with a family attorney, you should inquire about their costs and the timeline that they think it will take.
If you or a loved one is in a marriage that qualifies for annulment, it may be beneficial to speak with one of our family law attorneys. At Trotto Law Firm, P.C., we know the delicateness and complexity of these situations. We can use our knowledge and experience to help find the right solution for you. Contact our offices today.
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