One of the least common family law cases that attorneys and courts run into are annulments. Divorces, child custody cases and even adoptions are more prevalent than annulments. Let’s spend today’s blog post discussing this subject and the grounds for achieving an annulment as opposed to a divorce.
What exactly is an annulment?
In a divorce, the court is legally terminating the marriage between yourself and your spouse. This isn’t taking an eraser to the marriage, it’s more or less crossing out the marriage on a piece of paper. The marriage is still in the record books but it is no longer valid.
An annulment on the other hand formally dissolves a marriage on the basis that it was invalid to begin with and should not have been granted. This is the clean sweep, eraser to pencil type of dissolving that a divorce cannot achieve. It is much more difficult to be granted an annulment compared to a divorce, however, due to the grounds being harder to satisfy in order to qualify for one.
Void vs. Voidable Marriage- Why this distinction is important
A voidable marriage is one in which the marriage itself is valid and recognized by the State of Texas until the time that the annulment is granted and the marriage is declared invalid as a matter of law.
A void marriage is one in which the marriage was never valid and never recognized by the State of Texas.
Let’s look at an example in order to make this distinction a little more clear. A marriage can be classified as voidable and is therefore able to be annulled if the parties to the marriage were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the exchange of vows/time the marriage was being formalized. This marriage is a valid marriage in the eyes of the law until an annulment is sought and granted by a court.
An example of a void marriage is one where one spouse was already married at the time of the marriage vows being exchanged. This sort of relationship is not a legal marriage, is not valid and is not recognized in the eyes of the law.
An annulment- easier said than done
For the most part, annulments are not as easily achieved as you might ordinarily believe. There are circumstances that meet the requirements for an annulment but there must be evidence that can be presented to a court in order to allows the annulment to be granted.
The remainder of this blog post will detail the grounds that parties may cite for their reason for asking for the annulment.
Marriage of Person Under the age of 18
An annulment may be granted in the event that one of the parties is 16 or 17 years of age and did not receive parental consent prior to the marriage. If a party to the marriage is under the age of 16 the marriage is void and an annulment is not necessary as the marriage is not valid and cannot be recognized as a matter of law. A parent or legal guardian may file for the annulment but must be done before the minor’s 18th birthday.
One or both parties to the marriage were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
This is perhaps the most well known ground for asking for an annulment. There have been so many TV and movie plots surrounding this scenario that we could spend all day listing them. A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol lacks the capacity to consent to the marriage, rendering the marriage voidable.
A key point to understand, however, is that you cannot argue that the marriage is voidable on the grounds of intoxication if you have been living with your spouse since the time of the origination of the marriage. It probably is not a good idea, therefore, to shack up or continue to shack up with your spouse if you seek to annul the marriage on these grounds.
If either you or your spouse were impotent at the time your marriage came to be you can present evidence to that effect in order to be granted an annulment in Texas. If you are the spouse seeking the annulment you must prove that you were unaware of the impotency of your partner at the time of your marriage and must also show that you have not been living with your spouse since having found out about the impotency.
Fraud, Duress or Force
A shotgun marriage will not suffice. If your spouse forced you or otherwise used duress or fraud to induce you into a marriage you can request an annulment. Again- do not live with your spouse since you became aware of the fraud or after the force or duress ended.
Either you or your spouse can seek an annulment on grounds that either of you were mentally incapacitated at the time of the marriage. To prove the incapacity you or your spouse must prove to a court that you lacked the ability to consent to the marriage and since the marriage took place you have not lived together during a time in which either of you gained the ability to recognize and consent to the marriage. If basing the annulment on the incapacity of the other spouse, you must show that you were unaware of the mental incapacity of your spouse during the time of the marriage.
You can also annul your marriage if you can show a court that your spouse got a divorce immediately before your marriage began and that you had no clue about your spouse’s prior marriage or divorce. Additional requirements include the divorce having occurred within 30 days before marrying you. You must bring your annulment action before your one year anniversary of marriage. Here’s a shocker- you can’t have lived with your spouse since finding out about the prior marriage and divorce.
Getting married with 72 hours after obtaining your marriage license
You must wait at least 72 hours from the time you obtained your marriage license. If you did not, the marriage is voidable as long as your annulment petition is filed within thirty days of your marriage.
Questions about annulments? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today
To find out whether you qualify for an annulment or to get an answer to any other question related to family law in Texas please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. A free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Texas Annulment
- How an annulment is different than a divorce in Texas
- Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Common Law Marriage and Divorce
- Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Texas Marriage
- Frequently Asked Questions in Texas Divorce Cases
- 15 Myths About Divorce in Texas
- 9 Questions to Ask Yourself and the Divorce Lawyer Before You Hire Them
- Common Questions about Texas Prenuptial and Marital Agreements
- Should I sign a Texas Premarital or Prenuptial Agreement?
- My Fiancé wants me to sign a Texas Prenup. What should I do?
- Making Postnuptial Agreements Stick in a Texas Divorce
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.