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 instead of a divorce.
What exactly is an annulment?
The court is legally terminating the marriage between yourself and your spouse in a divorce. This isn't taking an eraser to the wedding; it's more or less crossing out the union on a piece of paper. The marriage is still in the record books, but it is no longer valid.
On the other hand, an annulment formally dissolves a marriage because it was invalid to begin with and should not have been granted. This is the clean sweep, eraser to pencil dissolving that a divorce cannot achieve. It is much more challenging to be given an annulment than a divorce, however, due to the grounds being harder to satisfy to qualify for one.
Void vs. Voidable Marriage- Why this distinction is important
Avoidable marriage is when the wedding itself is valid and recognized by the State of Texas until the annulment is granted and the wedding is declared invalid as a matter of law.
A void marriage is one in which the marriage was never valid and never recognized by Texas.
Let's look at an example to make this distinction a little transparent. A marriage can be classified as avoidable and can therefore be annulled if the parties to the marriage were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the exchange of vows/time the wedding was being formalized. This marriage is valid in the eyes of the law until an annulment is sought and granted by a court.
An example of a void marriage is when 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. Some circumstances meet the requirements for an annulment, but there must be evidence presented to a court to allow the dissolution 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 if one of the parties is 16 or 17 years of age and did not receive parental consent before 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 under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot consent to the marriage, rendering the marriage void.
However, a key point to understand 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 wedding. Therefore, it probably is not a good idea 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 was impotent when your marriage came to be, you could present evidence to that effect to be granted an annulment in Texas. If you are the spouse seeking the dissolution, you must prove that you were unaware of the importance 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 impotence.
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 wedding, you can request an annulment. Again- do not live with your spouse since you became aware of the fraud or after the force or coercion ended.
Either you or your spouse can seek an annulment because either of you was mentally incapacitated at the time of the marriage. To prove the incapacity, you or your spouse must prove to a court that you could not consent to the wedding. Since the marriage took place, you had not lived together during a time when either of you gained the ability to recognize and agree to the wedding. 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 wedding began and that you had no clue about your spouse's prior marriage or divorce. Additional requirements include the divorce has occurred within 30 days before marrying you. You must bring your annulment action before your first 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 72 hours after obtaining your marriage license
You must wait at least 72 hours to receive your marriage license. If you did not, the marriage is voidable as long as your annulment petition is filed within thirty days of your wedding.
Questions about annulments? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, 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, don't hesitate to get in touch with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. 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, PLLC | Annulment, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding annulments, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX Annulment Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Annulment lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles annulment 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.