Annulment is different than a divorce, in that instead of concluding a marriage, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage never occurred. The length of time you have been married is not a factor; rather, a legal annulment is based upon the inability of one of the parties to marry at the time of the marriage or fraud in the contract of marriage.
In practice, annulment can occur in several limited circumstances. First, you must be at least 16 years old to be married, and if you are under the age of 18, you must have your parents’ permission. If one of the married parties does not meet this requirement, the marriage can be annulled due to incapacity. Further, if the parties are close relatives—such as sibling, parent-child, or 1st cousin—the marriage may be set aside. Other instances where someone is unable to marry include someone who is married already, or someone with a serious mental deficiency.
Other rules involve some sort of fraud, lack of knowledge, or failure in the procedure of marriage. If the consent to marry was obtained under duress (shotgun wedding), the marriage may be annulled. If one of the parties concealed that they never intended to have sexual intercourse, or hid a criminal record involving “moral turpitude,” an annulment is available.
There are also archaic rule permitting annulment arising out of fertility. If a party conceals the fact that they cannot have children, the marriage can be set aside. Similarly, if one of the parties is unable to have children but doesn’t know it at the time of marriage, if the condition is discovered within two years, this can also stand as the basis for an annulment.
In sum, annulment is reserved for very particular circumstances. If you have a question about whether you may qualify for an annulment, contact the experienced attorneys at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.