The primary difference between a divorce and an annulment is that the legal effect of an annulment is that in the eyes of the law, the marriage never happened. While that may sound all well and good, the circumstances in which an annulment is even an option are very limited. Generally, only marriages of very short duration can be annulled. These would be marriages that have only existed for a matter of weeks or, perhaps, months and there are no children or property involved. Second, Kentucky imposes a statute of limitations from the date a reason to annul a marriage is discovered, so you had better not delay if you find one of the qualifying conditions exist. A final point to consider is that many people want an annulment for religious reasons. However, a civil annulment often does not satisfy the requirements of one's faith. This usually applies to Roman Catholics, Jews and Muslims. If this is a concern for you, you should discuss it with your clergy.
With all that being said, there are very specific, limited instances in which an annulment is even allowed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Even though Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, you must still plead grounds in order to get an annulment. Grounds for an annulment may include:
There may be other reasons to set aside a marriage as determined by a judge after a full hearing on the facts alleged. Once a circumstance that may justify annulling a marriage is discovered, the person must make a decision quickly or his/her only option will be a divorce. If the marriage is to be annulled because of bigamy, incest or mental disability, it must be filed within one year of the discovery of that condition. For all other reasons, a marriage can only be annulled if the action is filed within ninety (90) days of the discovery of the condition that may allow annulment.
- If the marriage was obtained by force or by fraud. Force could be like the old "shotgun wedding," but fraud is probably the most common reason for an annulment. One spouse may have lied about his/her ability or desire for children. It might also be misrepresentation about being legally capable of even getting married or actively concealing a substance abuse issue, criminal history or some other material fact that would have weighed on the other spouse's decision to marry.
- If the marriage is between two people who are related by blood closer than second cousins. This is considered an incestuous marriage.
- One spouse is already married, i.e. the marriage is a bigamous marriage.
- One spouse is incapable of sexual intercourse.
- One spouse is incapable of consenting to the marriage either as a result of mental disability or a legal disability such as being under the age of eighteen.
Annulment is not for everyone and only a small percentage of cases even qualify for one. If you believe your marriage may qualify to be annulled, you need to speak with a skilled family law attorney as soon as possible. If you have more questions, please contact the Alford Law Office.
Photo courtesy of Becca Peterson
Labels: annulment, bigamy, capacity, divorce, incest, underage, void marriage