If you're reading this blog, then you're either curious about what exactly annulment is, or if it may be an option for you to end your marriage. Regardless, we're here to answer your questions, defining what exactly annulment means, and the requirements for doing so in New York.
What Is an Annulment?
Like a divorce, an annulment can end a marriage. However, while a divorce simply legalizes the dissolution of a marriage, an annulment declares that the marriage was never valid to begin with, often due to transgressions one party made that violated the law in some way.
There are two types of annulments. Religious annulments, which a clergy can provide, will not legally end a marriage and have no legal power, but can be important to obtain for individuals of certain faiths. Civil annulments, which will legally end a marriage, involve a court examining the circumstances of a marriage and declaring it null or void depending on the evidence the parties present.
There are several reasons you may be able to get an annulment:
- One or both spouses were under the age of majority (18 in New York) at the time of marriage. However, if the parties choose to voluntarily continue cohabitating after reaching the age of majority, they may effectively waive their right to an annulment. If you married while underage and wish to end your marriage after reaching majority, you may instead need to file for a normal divorce.
- One spouse was not of sound mind at the time of marriage, and as such, could not consent to the marriage. In New York, for a spouse to be considered of unsound mind, they must be mentally ill for five years. If the mentally ill spouse had a period of sound mind, they may not qualify for an annulment. However, if either spouse was of unsound mind at the time the marriage was made official and could not consent as such, they will still qualify for an annulment.
- Either spouse cannot have sexual intercourse. In many states, the inability to have intercourse will qualify one or both parties for an annulment, particularly if the individual who cannot engage in intercourse failed to make their partner aware of their condition ahead of time.
- One party only agreed to the marriage as the result of duress, coercion, or fraud exerted by the other party. If you can prove that your spouse coerced you into the marriage under duress or committed fraud (such as hiding their true identity until after the marriage was legalized), you may be able to obtain an annulment. If you wish to get an annulment under these grounds, having a skilled attorney may be vital - obtaining evidence that proves fraud or coercion can be exceptionally challenging.