When Annulment Papers Can Void a Marriage Instead of Divorce

What is annulment?

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

The annulment of marriage is governed by state laws. Most states have enacted revocation statutes. In other states, if laws regulating espousal have not been observed, the courts declare that no marital union exists. Most of the state courts do not have specific marriage annulment forms.

Civil invalidation of the union by the state government and the church nullifying the union are the two types of marrying annulments. A civil repeal is granted by a superior court judge and allows parties to remarry or enter into a civil partnership. The Roman Catholic Church grants a church cancelation and requires a petition seeking nullity of marriage to be filed in the canon law church court. The church then makes a judicial finding that no valid marriage was created. The parties may remarry in the church and enter into other sacraments, but they cannot legally remarry without getting civil permission.

Marriage annulment papers and divorce forms are different because of the two distinct ways to legally end a marital union. Each procedure has definite requirements, filing steps and may vary in cost. Grounds of cancellation may also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some of the reasons are the following:

  • Either party has a living spouse at the time of bridal.

  • Neither party has reached the age of adulthood and does not have parental consent or court permission to marry.

  • One of the parties was intoxicated with alcohol or drugs during the wedding ceremony and was unable to understand the consequences.

  • The marital union was fictitious with the purpose to deceive civil servants or the public.

  • The marriage is a fraudulent marriage or a sham marriage intended to deceive public officials or society

  • The marriage has not been consummated.

  • Impotence and incest were deliberately concealed.

  • The union is prohibited by law, for example, if the bride and groom are blood relatives.


Adultery is a major ground for divorce and can be a reason for Catholic church revocation if adultery can be proved.

The application of annulment papers 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 and child support limit. In some states, courts determine the distribution of property when necessary and on a fair basis.

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 the marriage annulment papers filing. Nullification invalidates a spouse as if it never happened. Usually, it takes effect retroactively, although, in some jurisdictions, the marriage is considered void only from the date of annulment. Use our online professional-made templates to streamline the paperwork preparing.

How to file annulment?

One of the first steps is to make sure that you meet the legal requirements for application in your state. We will help you further. The USLegalForms.com offers the best online samples, instructions and support service. Our paperwork is compiled by professionals only.

What is a sham marriage and can it be annulled?

The sham marital union entered into with deceptive intent. For example, one may enter into it for the purpose of obtaining the citizenship of another country. Hence, a filing for an annulment may occur.

Can adultery be a cause for marriage annulment?

Generally, adultery cannot be considered a valid ground bridal nullification. This is based on the principle that what happens later in the espousal cannot determine the validity of the wedding. It can, however, be a ground for divorce. However, if the party seeking union invalidation is able to prove adultery, it may be a valid ground to set aside.

Is annulment papers the same as divorce?

Annulment and divorce are not the same. The first refers to the process by which wedlock is made void. Here the marrying is invalidated as if it never happened. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a conjugal union. It concludes the legal relationship between a man and a woman and returns them to single status having the capacity to remarry. Another difference is that, in divorce, the grounds arise after wedlock; whereas, nullification grounds exist prior to the wedding. In a divorce, alimony is granted.

What are the criteria/grounds to file the annulment forms?

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

  • Either party has a living spouse at the time of bridal.

  • Neither party has reached the age of adulthood and does not have parental consent or court permission to marry.

  • One of the parties was intoxicated with alcohol or drugs during the wedding ceremony and was unable to understand the consequences.

  • The marital union is fictitious with the purpose to deceive civil servants or the public.

  • Impotency and incest; and the other party was unaware of impotency or incest during the time of marriage;

  • The union is prohibited by law, for example, if the bride and groom are blood relatives.


Please note that the annulment forms may vary by jurisdiction.





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