Can I Get an Annulment?
Grounds for an Annulment
Maryland courts have often expressed a policy disfavoring annulments. However, annulments are granted by the court under narrow circumstances. An annulment is a dissolution of marriage on grounds that it is either void or voidable.
A “void” marriage was illegal and invalid to begin with, and occurs if there is;
- Bigamy: Either party was already married to someone else
- Consanguinity: The parties are impermissibly related by birth or marriage. For example, parents and children, or siblings.
- Lack of Capacity: Either party was legally insane or incompetent at the time of marriage.
These marriages can never be considered legal, regardless of whether the parties have consented.
A “voidable” marriage can be declared invalid by a court if a party challenges its validity. A marriage is voidable where;
- Either party was underage
- Consent was obtained through fraud, duress, or force
- A party is unable to have sexual intercourse
- Either party lacked the understanding required to consent, which can include being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- The parties are related, but more distantly than in void marriages. For example, aunts or uncles with nieces or nephews.
Typically, a challenge based on fraud must show that the other party misrepresented or concealed information concerning an essential aspect of the marriage. Exaggerations, stretching the truth, or minor lies will not meet this threshold.
To successfully challenge the validity of a marriage on many of the voidable grounds, you must file for an annulment promptly. If you remain in the marriage and voluntarily cohabitate, the court is likely to consider the marriage ratified and the ground waived.
Consulting an Experienced Attorney
For years, Bethany Shechtel, Esquire has guided clients through the divorce and annulment process. If you have questions about whether an annulment is right for you, contact BGS Law today.