What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a legal decree that dissolves a marriage which is considered “void” or “voidable;” in other words marriages that are not legally valid or illegitimate from the beginning. A “void” marriage is one that is legally invalid from the start. A “voidable” marriage implicates that there is a legal defect which invalidates the marriage arising after the marriage has taken place. An Annulment remains a viable yet rare alternative to divorce.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Annulment and divorce appear to achieve the same legal result; however, they are completely distinct and different legal procedures. While both result in the termination of a marriage, the legal effect of an annulment is to invalidate or cancel the marriage; therefore, the effect is that the parties were never actually married. By contrast, a divorce recognizes the existence of a valid marriage, dissolves the marriage that is irretrievably broken, and restores the parties to being legally single. If the latter is your situation, then your best option is to hire an effective and experience divorce attorney.

The legal effect of an Annulment is that the marriage never took place.

Grounds for an Annulment in Florida.

Annulments are considered a rare and somewhat unusual remedy of law to terminate a marriage. Not all marriages qualify for annulment. The following are some common grounds for obtaining an annulment in Florida:

Marriages that are “void” and legally invalid from the start include bigamous marriages (one of the parties is legally incapable of contracting marriage because he or she is legally married to another person),incestuous marriages, marriages where the union consists of two underage people, or because one spouse is permanently mentally incapacitated and was unable to consent to the marriage.Although these marriages are technically void and legally deficient it is highly recommended that the annulment be procured as a matter of record.

Marriages can or maybe annulled based on voidable grounds for the following reasons:

One of the spouses lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage because at the time of the ceremonial “I do” the spouse was suffering from a serious albeit temporary mental problem or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

One of the spouses fraudulently induced, misrepresented, or tricked the other spouse into getting married. The fraud, trickery, or misrepresentation must be specific to the essence of the marital relationship. If for example, a spouse conceals or lies about a life threatening illness like cancer or HIV this lie would not serve as a basis to invalidate the marriage; however, if a spouse enters into the marriage but never moves in with the other spouse or never intended to consummate the marriage, this would serve as a lie specific to the essence of the marital relationship and as grounds to annul the marriage.

Similarly, if one spouse is impotent, and the other spouse did not know this information at the time of marriage, the marriage may be annulled as voidable.

If one or both parties entered into the marriage under duress,whereby one or both parties were coerced or possibly forced to enter the marriage. Duress, coercion, or force would qualify as grounds to annul the marriage as a voidable event.

The marriage may also be annulled as “voidable,” when an underage spouse enters the marriage without prior consent of a parent or guardian.

Finally, the marriage is also voidable if one or both spouses entered the marriage as a joke.

Seeking an Annulment?

A Petition requesting that the marriage be annulled must be filed by the party seeking to annul the marriage. The Petition must allege the precise background information and the grounds for granting the annulment. If children were born of the marriage or the wife is presently pregnant, a statement regarding the children is required. A statement as to any marital assets acquired during the marriage is also required. If the marriage has resulted in children or acquisition of significant shared assets, the court may deny the Petition for Annulment and redirect you to file a Petition for Divorce.

To determine whether Annulment is a viable option to terminate your marriage, contact The Sander Firm, P.A. to speak with Tristan Sanders or Silvia Sanders about the specifics of your circumstances. We will be happy to advise you about your options and guide you in the right direction.