How To Annul A Marriage

Whether you feel like your partner wasn't honest with you before your marriage, or you've simply come to your senses, you have the right to seek an annulment that will wipe the record clean and allow you to start fresh. Unlike divorce, an annulment literally allows you to render your marriage void and erase it from your history. It can also protect you from having to go through a drawn-out court battle just to protect what's rightfully yours. If you feel that you've been led astray and don't want to have to share your life with someone who feels like a stranger, here's what you need to know about getting a pain-free annulment. The information provided here is for general information only and should not be used as legal advice.

How To Annul A Marriage

  1. Find Out If You Qualify. Even if you feel you've made a mistake with your marriage, it's important to remember that not everyone is able to get an annulment. There are specific circumstances under which marriage couples can erase their marriage from the record, including but not limited to altered states at the time of the marriage, coercion, and fraud by one partner. If you're a practicing Catholic, getting an annulment might be the only way you can separate from a spouse while staying within the bounds of your religion. Still, you have to have the right reasons, as well as the right lawyer, in order to bring a solid case to court.
  2. Connect With Your Lawyer. After you decide you want to go full speed ahead with your annulment, you need to be open and honest with your lawyer about everything that's happened to make you distrust or feel mislead by your spouse. The more evidence you have, the quicker your annulment proceedings will be. If you feel you weren't of sound mind during the actual marriage, this can also count as a reason to annul the marriage. Whatever you do, don't hold back. As long as you're honest with your lawyer, you'll be able to become disentangled from your spouse painlessly without having to give up any of your property or assets.
  3. Make A Strong Case In Court. Ideally, you and your ex will have talked about the process before going to court. However, if you feel your spouse will react badly or you simply feel like you truly don't know who you married, it's best to do what you can to get your court date set quickly. Work with your lawyer to make sure you don't have to spend a ton of time waiting for your life to get back on track.
  4. Get Your Marriage Struck From The Record. Once you've been legally granted your annulment, you'll be able to walk away free just as if the marriage had never happened. You won't have to be responsible for any kind of support or asset distribution when it comes to your ex, and all your funds and property will remain legally yours.

What If I Just Changed My Mind About The Marriage?

There are many reasons why a marriage might not work out. Unfortunately, to qualify for a civil annulment, it's not enough to simply have decided that marriage isn't for you, or that things aren't working out the way you thought they might. No matter how short the honeymoon period might seem, you still have to provide the courts with a solid cause as to why you want your marriage dissolved. If you feel you can't trust your spouse or were forced into the marriage, you have solid grounds for an annulment. However, if you simply feel like you're not up to the challenge or you want to break up with your spouse for ordinary reasons, an annulment might not be an option for you.

Annulment Laws By State

State Grounds Limitations
Alabama Bigamy, incest, underage marriage None
Alaska Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent Willing cohabitation
Arizona Per Superior Court's decision None
Arkansas Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent Parents may annul if underage
California Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent Knowledge of fraud
Colorado Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud
Connecticut Bigamy, impotence, lack of consent None
Delaware Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 1 year previous
District of Columbia Bigamy, impotence, lack of consent, unsound mind, mental incapacity None
Florida None None
Georgia Unsound mind, underage marriage Cannot be granted if children are born
Hawaii Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud
Idaho Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 1 year previous
Illinois Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
Indiana Bigamy, impotence, lack of consent, unsound mind, mental incapacity None
Iowa Underage marriage, lack of consent, mental incapacity None
Kansas Underage marriage, lack of consent, mental incapacity None
Kentucky Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Under 18 without parental consent, knowledge of fraud
Louisiana Same sex marriage, improper ceremony performed None
Maine Bigamy, illegal marriage None
Maryland None None
Massachusetts Invalid marriage None
Michigan Underage marriage, lack of consent, mental incapacity Knowledge of fraud
Minnesota Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
Mississippi Bigamy, illegal marriage Cannot be granted if children are born unless incestuous
Missouri None None
Montana Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
Nebraska Underage marriage, lack of consent, mental incapacity None
Nevada Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
New Hampshire Underage marriage None
New Jersey Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Incest
New Mexico Underage marriage, illegal marriage None
New York Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
North Carolina Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Cannot be granted with children or willing cohabitation
North Dakota Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence
Ohio Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Under 18 without parental consent, knowledge of fraud
Oklahoma Underage marriage None
Oregon Lack of consent, fraud, unsound mind None
Pennsylvania Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Within 60 days
Rhode Island None None
South Carolina Non-consummation None
South Dakota Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
Tennessee Bigamy None
Texas Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
Utah Prohibited marriage None
Vermont Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Cannot be granted with children or willing cohabitation
Virginia Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Within 2 years
Washington Underage marriage None
West Virginia Bigamy, incest, underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence None
Wisconsin Underage marriage, unsound mind, lack of or forced consent, impotence Lack of parental consent, knowledge of fraud up to 90 days previous
Wyoming Lack of consent, fraud, unsound mind Within 2 years

What If My Partner Doesn't Want An Annulment?

While it's always preferable to be on the same page with your ex in regards to getting an annulment, it's not strictly necessary, especially if you feel your partner has acted in a manipulative or fraudulent manner before or during the marriage. If you feel you're in danger or you fear your partner's reaction, there's no reason to put yourself in an even more vulnerable position by opening up a conversation you know won't be received well. If you want an annulment, the best thing to do is to speak to your lawyer and hammer out a game plan that will keep you protected. Your attorney will take it from there.

  • You were tricked or coerced into marriage
  • Your spouse withheld important information that would have affected your decision to wed
  • Your spouse was of unsound mind
  • You were under the influence
  • You married someone under the legal age limit
  • You married a relative
  • Your spouse was still legally married
  • Your spouse was impotent or unable to perform in bed (only valid if you weren't aware of the impotence beforehand.)

In Depth

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was a spur-of-the-moment decision you lived to regret. Perhaps it was the realization that the person you married just isn't for you after all. Whatever the reason, you want to separate from your spouse, and you want it to be quick and painless. Luckily, there's a legal way out that doesn't involve any messy court battles or family feuds. For many people getting a marriage annulled is a great way to quickly sever ties between you and a spouse without having to spend ages fighting it out in court.

If you're a celebrity like Nicky Hilton, who realized quickly that her 2004 marriage to Todd Meister wasn't made in heaven, you'll be relieved to find out that getting a marriage annulled is an option. But even if you take advantage of this get-out-of-jail-free card, it's not as simple as it looks. When a Pennsylvania woman sought an annulment from her Nigerian husband a few years ago, she was terrified that going the traditional divorce route would allow her husband to take charge of all the property she'd recently inherited.

Her husband failed to even respond to her lawyers, making things difficult for everyone involved. Thankfully, because of great work by her attorney, the woman was able to be set free after discovering the man was a bigamist. This is a happy story, but it could have gone the other way. She could have had to make a choice between a messy divorce that forced her to share at least half of her estate, or living with someone she no longer loved or trusted.

This is a happy story, but it could have gone the other way.

If you don't want this to happen to you, don't wait for another minute. Be sure to read our quick guide on getting an easy annulment, found on this page. Scroll beneath this video to get in touch with a lawyer who can help. If you want to be free from your marriage, here's what you need to do.

#1: Find Out If It's An Option. While many marriages can end in regret and sadness, not every marriage is a candidate for annulment. In order to qualify, you have to prove that you weren't in the right state of mind, were coerced, or were manipulated into the marriage. If your partner lied to you in order to get you to the altar, that counts too. You don't have to be blackout drunk like Britney Spears undoubtedly was during her Vegas marriage to school friend Jason Alexander, in order to successfully annul your marriage.

If you've simply had time to realize that you made the decision in haste or in bad circumstances, such as 18-year old Janet Jackson did with soul singer James De Barge, you can use this as grounds for an annulment, especially if it's in a relatively short time frame. Many celebs from Shannen Doherty to Idris Elba have annulled their marriages in less than six months, proving that sometimes, all you need is a bit of perspective in order to figure out whether or not the marriage is truly right for you.

Many celebs from Shannen Doherty to Idris Elba have annulled their marriages in less than six months, proving that sometimes, all you need is a bit of perspective in order to figure out whether or not the marriage is truly right for you.

#2: Call Your Lawyer. That said, getting an annulment isn't easy, especially if you don't have the right lawyer by your side. Any whirlwind courtship can turn ugly fast, especially if one person feels tricked or manipulated into the marriage. When Renee Zellwegger and Kenny Chesney wed on the beach in 2005, all seemed perfect between them. However, when Zellwegger had the marriage annuled shortly afterward, her citation of 'fraud' as the cause had people talking and speculating about Chesney's sexuality.

If Zellwegger hadn't had a great lawyer by her side, she could easily have been dragged into court for slander rather than enjoying the peace and simplicity of a mess-free ending to her marriage. If you don't want things to get ugly between you and your ex, you need to make sure you get the best legal help there is right now. Check out our brief guide on getting your marriage annulled the right way. You can find it by scrolling below this video in order to link up with an experienced lawyer who will guide you through the process.

#3: Make Your Case. Whether you feel you've been tricked, coerced, lied to, or cheated, you deserve to walk away without any trouble. Along with your lawyer, make a case as to why your marriage should be rendered null and void. You don't need to include the other party in this process, especially if you're afraid of how they might react. Remember, when it comes to getting your marriage annulled, the law is on your side. Don't make the mistake that underage Aaliyah did when she married R. Kelly.

Along with your lawyer, make a case as to why your marriage should be rendered null and void.

If you feel you've been manipulated you need to bring your case to court as soon as possible.

#4: Walk Away Free. We're not lawyers, and this isn't legal advice, but if you take marriage seriously and don't feel you should have to give up your property or your rights, it's crucial that you connect with the right lawyer as soon as you can. If you want to walk away painlessly from your marriage, there's no reason to get caught up in the mess and drama of a long, drawn out divorce.

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