Annulment is a lawsuit where a spouse asks the judge to declare his or her marriage invalid for particular reason(s) that existed at the beginning of the marriage.
There is a difference between annulment and divorce. In a divorce, the court rules that a valid marriage has ended. However, in a suit for annulment, the court rules as if the marriage never happened.
According to Chapter 6 of the Texas Family Code, there are legal grounds or reasons for annulment, such as:
1. Underage. A lawsuit to annul a marriage may not be filed by a parent or legal guardian after the 18th birthday of the person.
2. Under influence of alcohol or narcotics. If the person filing the suit was drunk or under influence of drugs at the time of the marriage, then there is no capacity to consent to the marriage. Also, the parties must not voluntary cohabitation since the effects of the narcotics and alcoholic drinks stopped.
3. Impotency. A judge may grant an annulment of a marriage to a person who found out her spouse is impotent for physical or mental reasons. The reasons must not be known at the time of the marriage. Also, she must not have lived with the impotent spouse since she discovered his impotency. (Side note: this reason can apply to male petitioner as well).
4. Fraud, Duress, or Force. A person who was induced by fraud or forced to marry another person can request an annulment of the marriage. He or she must not have voluntarily cohabitate with the other party after learning of the fraud.
5. Concealed divorce. An oblivious spouse finds out about a previous divorce by her spouse which occurred within 30-day period before their marriage ceremony. After the discovery, she does not cohabitate and decides to annul the marriage, the court may grant it — as long as the suit is before the couple’s first marriage anniversary.
6. 72 Hours. This is the most common reason for annulment of a marriage – thanks to Hollywood movies. This is a case where the marriage ceremony is during the 72-hour period immediately after the marriage license was issued. Either party can file for an annulment of the marriage.
7. Consanguinity. A marriage to your relation by blood or half blood in first, second, and third consanguinity such as parent to child, siblings, uncles/aunts, or nephew/nieces.
8. Marriage during existence of prior marriage. A marriage is void ff a prior marriage to another person existed and had not been dissolved at the time the person entered the marriage. However, the invalid marriage becomes valid after the prior marriage is dissolved. There are few requirements:
(a)the parties must have lived together, AND (2) they must have represented themselves to together as a married couple.
9. Marriage to a stepchild or step-parent. A marriage is void if a party is a current or former stepchild or stepparent of the other party.
10. Mental incapacity. This is similar to the underlying principle for fraud or duress. One of the parties/spouses lacks the mental capacity to consent to marriage. As long as such spouse has not cohabitated with the other spouse, he or she may request for an annulment of a marriage.
If you do not qualify for annulment, you may still file for divorce.
At the end of the day, it is best to hire an attorney. It will save you time and money.
You need the help of a family attorney with completing the legal process to annul a marriage. Remember, a judge is looking at the reason for granting your request in accordance with the Texas Family Code, not how you feel. There are other factors to consider before filing, such as residency requirement. Do you qualify? What if there are children born or adopted during the marriage? Or what if you are under 18 years old? What if your spouse is pregnant and you wish to annul the marriage?
Each case is different and unique. One of our helpful staff will talk to you about your specific story. Schedule a consultation.