A Brief Overview Civil Annulment Laws

Laws regarding Civil Annulment differ from state to state.

Overview Of Civil Annulment
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Laws regarding Civil Annulment differ from state to state. 

You can research your state’s laws to become more familiar with what the process would involve. Basically, a Civil Annulment is the legal process a couple goes through to have their marriage declared null and void. A court, for the following reasons, can declare a marriage null and void:

  • If one spouse is below the legal age for marriage.
  • If there is a close biological relationship between the spouses.
  • If either of the spouses felt forced into the marriage by the other or particular circumstances.
  • If either spouse was previously married and that marriage had not ended in divorce.
  • If either spouse becomes mentally or physically unable to take part in the marriage.
  • If either spouse fails to reveal they were previously married and divorced.
  • If either spouse withholds information such as impotence, sterility, criminal record or sexually transmitted disease.

Difference Between Divorce And Civil Annulment

An annulment, just like a divorce is a legal matter requiring a couple to use the courts. A divorce legally ends the marriage whereas an annulment is the legal process couples go through that declares the marriage never took place. 

People seek an annulment over divorce for many reasons. Divorce can carry a religious stigma that a person would find hard to live with or, to be able to marry again in the Catholic church one would need to have the previous marriage declared legally null and void.

According to the Catholic Divorce Survival Guide, "A valid marriage can never be broken. Why? Because marriage is meant to image that unbreakable bond of permanent love between Christ and His Bride, the Church. The church has NO POWER to break an authentic marriage bond, but she does have the authority to determine--after a thorough investigation--if that bond never formed and the marriage was invalid, to begin with."

What does this mean? Many things! An annulment can be granted to a spouse if the other spouse showed a lack of reasoning when making decisions during the marriage. Or, either spouse was ignorant about the nature of marriage. 

How to Obtain a Civil Annulment

Obtaining a Civil Annulment is similar to obtaining a divorce in that, you must file a petition with the courts stating what grounds you feel the marriage should be annulled. In most cases of Civil Annulment the marriage is of short duration and normally there is no issue of splitting marital property, child custody or child support.

However, there are instances of long-term marriages ending in annulment. If this is the case then ​the distribution of marital property, child custody, child support, and alimony are handled in the same way the would be if the marriage ended in divorce.

Whether you are in a long-term or short-term marriage, the process involves filing a petition requesting the marriage be void and a hearing before the courts. If the courts find that the petitioner, the party requesting the annulment has proven their case the marriage will be declared null and void by a judge.

How Children Impact Civil Annulment

Some states do not allow annulment if the marriage produced children. In these states, the marriage can only end through divorce. In states that do allow annulment, the status of the children remains the same as they would in the case of divorce. Annulment does not mean that your children automatically become illegitimate under any circumstance.