Family Law

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The effects of a divorce can be long lasting and far-reaching. This is generally not the case with an annulment. An annulment does not include dividing up property and paying alimony because the marriage is treated as having never existed. From a legal perspective, if certain conditions can be proved in a court, then annulment becomes simply a procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the inception, as if it never happened in the first place.
Importantly, an annulment is available only if the validity of the marriage can be called into question by mental, physical or legal considerations. In fact, there are a number of factors which can affect a person's mental state and therefore his or her ability to consent to a marriage. For instance, a marriage may be annulled if one party was mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage registration. Last, if a person entered into marriage because of misplaced belief and reliance on untrue statements by the other person, then an annulment may also be possible. 
Other issues can make it illegal to marry and can therefore be a basis for annulment. For instance, if one of the parties was still married at the time of the wedding, the marriage could be annulled. If one party was underage and didn't have the required parental or court consent for marrying, the marriage may be annulled. 
Invalid marriage

A marriage between the following persons is deemed to be invalid and must be annulled:

  • persons who are related to one another by blood;
  • full blood and half blood brothers and sisters; 
  • cousins, aunts, uncles and nephews, nieces; 
  • a natural child and an adopted child, as well as adopted children the court, however, can permit such marriages). 
  • an adopting parent and an adopted child (but note that a marriage between an adopting parent and an adopted child can be registered only after an adoption has been dissolved). 

In conclusion, annulment isn't for everyone. Annulment is a legal protection set up for those who truly should not have been married for one reason or another and as such, annulment isn't available as an escape route from legal consequences of a normal marriage. On the whole, only a small percentage of those who are married truly qualify for an annulment because grounds are often quite difficult to substantiate, and you'll have to provide solid evidence to prove them. 

The information provided herein should not be relied upon as legal advice, and may be out of date by the time you read it. Because each situation is different, we strongly recommend that you seek experienced local legal counsel to handle your particular case.