Marriage is a significant commitment, where you tie yourself to another person in just about every way you can. You combine your future, your financials, your families, and your freedom. But, as important as marriage is, it’s not always the hardest to start. It’s easy enough that people can be married by mistake, under duress, under the influence, or even without realizing it. In these cases, you wouldn’t want to get a divorce. You may want a marriage annulment. If you’ve never heard of this, the annulment and family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC can help.
What are Marriage Annulments?
An annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage as invalid. Essentially, the marriage is declared to have never existed in the eyes of the law and circumvents the divorce process. This is especially useful for people who didn’t know they were married or didn’t want their marriage recognized when they eventually did their taxes or separated their property.
An annulment allows this by essentially erasing the marriage from existence. When the couple was legally never married in the first place, you can separate your taxes, property, and debt to how you likely expected them to be.
Eligibility for a Marriage Annulment
Not all marriages are eligible for an annulment. In most cases, an annulment can only be granted if one or both parties can prove that the marriage was never valid to begin with. There are several circumstances in which an annulment may be granted, including:
- Fraud or misrepresentation: If one party entered into the marriage based on false information or lies from the other party, an annulment may be granted. An example of this would be one partner giving the other a false identity or falsified documents for their home, marital property, bank account, etc.
- Incest: If the marriage is between close relatives, it can be annulled. This is not the same as finding out that someone is a distant relative. This would mean someone who is an immediate family member (sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent).
- Bigamy: If one party is already legally married to someone else, the marriage can be annulled. Having more than one spouse in New York, as is the law in all 50 states, is illegal.
- Mental incapacity: If one party was unable to fully understand the implications of getting married due to mental illness or impairment influenced by alcohol or drugs, an annulment may be granted.
- Underage marriage: If one or both parties were underage at the time of marriage and did not have proper consent from parents or legal guardians, the marriage can be annulled. In the case that a minor’s parents consented to a marriage and a judge approved, the marriage can’t be annulled.
Things to Know Before Your Annulment
There are specific topics and pieces of information that people need to know before they consider an annulment.
- Consummation has no bearing on annulment. Despite what pop culture might say, whether or not you’ve consummated the marriage is not grounds for an annulment. If it were, then a couple who was married under false pretenses but had consummated their relationship beforehand couldn’t get an annulment. At the same time, spouses who forgo intercourse in their relationship wouldn’t be considered married, so consummation has no bearing.
- Child custody would be handled as if both parents were unmarried. Since your marriage never happened, your children, therefore, have always been the product of an unmarried couple. The court would then treat child custody under the rules of an unmarried couple rather than a divorcing couple.
- It doesn’t legally matter if your children become “illegitimate.” Since 1980, the Supreme Court has ruled for the Equal Protection of Illegitimate Children. This means that whether or not parents are married means nothing to the legal status of the children. To do so would be discrimination. In the eyes of the Supreme Court, it doesn’t matter if children are “legitimate” or “illegitimate,” so getting an annulment does not reduce the rights of your children. You would have to establish paternity, but children of unmarried parents and married parents are equal once paternity is established. They have the same rights to inheritance and child support.
Differences Between Marriage Annulments and Divorce
As mentioned before, an annulment essentially erases the marriage from existence while a divorce terminates a valid marriage. This means that the legal implications of an annulment and divorce are vastly different.
For example, in a divorce, assets and debts acquired during the marriage are typically divided between the two parties. In an annulment, however, there is no division of assets because, technically, the marriage never existed. They would be divided based on how they would have applied if you weren’t married.
Contact the Annulment Attorneys at The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC For Help With Your Annulment
If you are considering obtaining an annulment, it’s important to seek guidance from experienced annulment attorneys like those on our team at The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC. We can help you understand the eligibility requirements of New York and guide you through the legal process.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a consultation to discuss your options for an annulment. Our dedicated team is here to provide you with the support and representation you need during this difficult time.