By: Akanksha A. Panicker
It’s always difficult to end a marriage, and sometimes divorce seems like it’s insurmountable. There are multiple ways to end a marriage, however, including annulment and legal separation. This article will explore the nature of annulment as an option to end a marriage.
[1.1] WHAT IS ANNULMENT
An annulment or a declaration of nullity basically says that the marriage was invalidly contracted and is thus treated as though it never occurred. An annulment can only be granted if the marriage was invalid in the first place. Essentially, the marriage vanishes retroactively, as if they had never been married.
Unlike popular belief, an annulment cannot be granted for a marriage that has yet to be consummated or for a marriage that has lasted for a short time alone. However, an annulment can be granted if one spouse is physically incapable of having sexual relations. When the court does pronounce an annulment, it issues an order of dissolution that divides your property and addresses issues such as child support and child custody.
An annulment is granted when a marriage is voidable or void from the beginning, that is to say, there was a defect at the time the parties entered into the marriage, enabling the court to render it invalid. Grounds for annulment are as follows:
Fraud: It may be annulled where the consent was obtained by fraud, provided the fraud was such that it would have deceived an ordinarily prudent person and was material to obtaining the other party’s consent. The fraud must be such as to go to the essence of the marriage contract. Only the injured spouse, his or her parent or relative with an interest to avoid the marriage can obtain the annulment on this ground. Fraud claims include, but are not limited to: misrepresenting one’s religious denomination or the intensity with which one practices; concealing one’s inability to procreate, secretly carrying a disease or genetic disorder that would increase the risk of procreation; coercing one’s husband into entering a marriage based on a false declaration of paternity; misrepresenting sexual proclivities; and physically being incapable of consummating the marriage.