Like a divorce, an annulment dissolves a marriage. However, both divorce and annulment are different. While a divorce ends a marriage contract, an annulment reaches further to erase the marriage’s existence. It declares a marriage void and invalid in the eyes of the law.
An annulment is possible for couples who have been married a short while and have questions about their marriage’s validity. These questions may arise either from a religious or personal standpoint. It’s important to state that obtaining a religious annulment is different, and it has no legal effect on marital status.
If you’re considering terminating your marriage through a civil annulment, you may be wondering how the process works. While we’ll discuss the basics of an annulment in Pennsylvania, talk to Chester county divorce lawyers who can help your case.
Grounds for Annulment of Marriage
For a marriage to be eligible for annulment, in Pennsylvania, it must fall under one of two categories: void and voidable marriage. If you don’t meet any of these grounds, your only option is a divorce.
Grounds for Void Marriages
A void marriage is an illegal marriage that shouldn’t have occurred. It means that at the point of contracting the union, it already had legal flaws. Grounds for void marriages include:
- Bigamy: Where one or both spouses were legally married to other people, without an annulment, divorce, or death of the other spouse. Since it’s illegal in Pennsylvania to be married to two people simultaneously, the second marriage is void.
- Consanguinity: Pennsylvania law prohibits marriage between close blood relatives or within two degrees of relationships. For instance, marriages between a parent and a child, siblings, first cousins, or other combinations of blood relationships
- Mental Incapacity: When one party was unable or incapable of consenting to the marriage due to mental ill-health or insanity. This case may be challenging to prove and may require medical records and doctor’s opinions. It’s best to hire Chester county divorce lawyers if you are or know someone in such a scenario.
Grounds for Voidable Marriages
A voidable marriage is a legally recognized marriage, void due to certain elements that call the marriage’s validity into question. Grounds for voidable marriages include:
- Under 16: Where either spouse was under 16 at the time of the wedding, unless authorized by the court
- Under 18: Where either party was 16 or 17 and didn’t obtain court authorization or parental consent before the marriage. An annulment action has to commence within 60 days of the marriage ceremony for the court to grant an annulment. If both spouses re-affirm the union after they turn 18, the marriage is no longer voidable.
- Intoxication: Cases, where either party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the wedding, is voidable within 60 days. Intoxication may be challenging to prove and will require witness’ testimony.
- Impotence: A situation where one spouse is unable to perform sexual intercourse, and the other wasn’t aware before the marriage.
- Fraud: A marriage results from fraud, coercion, duress, or force on the part of one spouse. However, if there was voluntary cohabitation after knowledge of the fraud or effects of the constraint wears off, the marriage can’t be annulled.
Getting an Annulment
The process of obtaining an annulment depends on whether the marriage is void or voidable. A void marriage is invalid immediately, and a judge can even annul it as part of another legal proceeding. A voidable marriage, on the other hand, will have to go through a trial.
Annulment helps to end unions that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. These cases sound scripted, but they do occur. To help you determine if your marriage is eligible for an annulment, Contact Chester county divorce lawyers immediately.