US Legal Forms » Special Areas » Annulment Forms

Annulment Forms

Search for annulment forms and resources. An excellent way to learn about annulment is our Annulment Questionnaire.



When Annulment Can Void a Marriage Instead of Divorce

What is annulment?

Annulment of marriage refers to the process by which a marriage is declared void, as though it never existed. Usually annulment is retroactive, although some jurisdictions consider the marriage void only from the date of annulment. A judgment of annulment declares a marriage to be invalid. Invalid marriages are of two types: void marriages and voidable marriages. A void marriage is invalid from the date of marriage and, therefore, cannot lawfully exist. A court will grant a decree of annulment once grounds such as bigamy, incest and lack of consent are proved. In the case of voidable marriage, it is valid until an annulment is sought. Annulment of a voidable marriage comes into effect only when a court makes its decision.

Annulment of marriage is governed by state laws. Most of the states have enacted annulment statutes. In other states, if laws regulating marriage have not been observed, the courts declare that no marriage exists. Most of the state courts do not have specific annulment forms to declare a marriage void.

Civil annulment by the state government and church annulment are the two types of annulment of marriage. A civil annulment is granted by a superior court judge while the Roman Catholic Church grants a church annulment. A civil annulment allows parties to remarry or enter into a civil partnership. For Catholic Church annulment, a petition seeking nullity of marriage should be filed in the canon law church court. The church then makes a judicial finding that no valid marriage was created on the date of marriage. Church annulment allows parties to remarry in the church and enter into other sacraments. Nevertheless, church annulment does not have legal sanctity. Parties securing a church annulment cannot legally remarry without getting a civil annulment.

Annulment and divorce are different. Divorce and Annulment are two different ways to legally end a marriage. Divorce ends a marriage legally on a specific date, whereas in the case of annulment marriage is declared as null and void. Grounds of annulment may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There are various reasons for annulment. Some of the grounds for annulment of a marriage are the following:

  • Either party has a living spouse at the time of marriage
  • Either party was under aged and does not have parental consent or court approval to the marriage.
  • One of the parties was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs at the time of marriage ceremony and s/he was incapable of knowing the consequences.
  • The marriage is a fraudulent marriage or a sham marriage intended to deceive public officials or society
  • The marriage has not been consummated.
  • Impotency and incest of one party and the other party being unaware of the fact prior to marriage
  • Marriage is prohibited by law for example, marriage between blood relatives.

Although adultery is a major ground for divorce, it is not a ground for the Catholic annulment of marriage. However, adultery can be a reason for Catholic church annulment if adultery at the time of marriage can be proved.

Marriage annulment does not question the legitimacy of children born out of wedlock. As in the case of divorce, in annulment also, a court may award child custody, child support and support of a party. In some states, courts devise a fair allocation of property where necessary and equitable.

ANNULMENT FAQs

Can a marriage be dissolved as if it never happened?

Yes, a marriage can be dissolved as if it never occurred and this is done through annulment. Annulment refers to the process by which a marriage is made void. Annulment invalidates a marriage as if it never happened. Usually annulment takes effect retroactively, although in some jurisdictions, the marriage is considered void only from the date of annulment. Annulment of marriage does not question the legitimacy of the children born out of wedlock.

Is a Catholic annulment legal?

Catholic annulment is a Church's canon law procedure by which a marriage is treated as invalidly solemnized. When an ecclesial tribunal declares the Catholic marriage null, it does not mean that the marriage is legally dissolved; but that the sacrament of marriage was not validly entered. For Catholic church annulment, a petition seeking nullity of marriage should be filed in the canon law church court. The church then makes a judicial finding that no valid marriage was created on the date of marriage. Church annulment allows parties to remarry in the church and enter into other sacraments. However, without a civil annulment marriage to another person is not legally possible.

What is a sham marriage and can it be annulled?

A sham marriage is a marriage entered into with deceptive intent. For example, one may enter into sham marriage for the purpose of obtaining the citizenship of another country. Hence, in the case of such a sham marriage annulment may be granted.

Can adultery be a cause for marriage annulment?

Generally, adultery cannot be considered a valid ground for annulment of marriage. This is based on the principle that what happens later in the marriage cannot determine the validity of the wedding. It can however be a ground for divorce. However, if the party seeking annulment is able to prove adultery during the time of marriage, it may be a valid ground for annulment.

Is annulment of marriage the same as divorce?

Annulment and divorce are not the same. Annulment refers to the process by which a marriage is made void. In annulment, a marriage is invalidated as if it never happened. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. It concludes the legal relationship between a man and a woman and returns them to single status having capacity to remarry. Another difference between divorce and annulment is that, in divorce, the grounds arise after marriage; whereas in annulment, the grounds exist prior to marriage. In divorce, generally alimony is granted. However, alimony is not granted after issuance of the annulment decree unless the state statute provides otherwise.

What are the criteria/ grounds of annulment of marriage?

The reasons for annulment may vary from state to state. Some of the grounds for annulment of marriage are as follows:

  • Either of the parties has a living spouse at the time of marriage;
  • Either of the parties was under age and did not have consent of parents or court approval to marry;
  • One of the parties was intoxicated or under undue influence at the time of marriage ceremony and was incapable of knowing the consequences of marriage;
  • The marriage was a sham intended to deceive public officials or society;
  • Impotency and incest; and the other party was unaware of impotency or incest during the time of marriage;
  • The marriage has not been consummated;
  • The marriage is prohibited by law in any other way.

Please note that the annulment forms may vary by jurisdiction.