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Annulment

An annulment is a judicial declaration that a marriage never occurred, as opposed to a divorce, which declares that a marriage is dissolved. The grounds for obtaining an annulment range from violating the waiting period after a marriage license was obtained to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage ceremony. A marriage cannot be annulled after the death of one of the spouses.

SIDEBAR: An annulment that has been granted by a church or religious entity is not a legal annulment. A legal annulment requires a judicial decree. The parties to an annulment granted by a religious entity are not free to legally remarry until they obtain an annulment through the court.

TIP: A petition to annul a marriage must be filed in the state in which the marriage ceremony took place. There is no residency requirement. For instance, a wife must reside in a state for 6 months before she can file for divorce there; however, she must file for an annulment wherever the marriage occurred whether she still lives there or not.

My wife and I have been married only a month. Because of the duration of our marriage, can I get an annulment instead of a divorce?

No. The brief length of your marriage is not a recognized ground for obtaining an annulment. Unless you have a legal basis for an annulment, you and your wife must seek a divorce.

Can I get my marriage annulled if I am pregnant?

Yes. The fact that you are pregnant does not prohibit you from obtaining an annulment if the requisite grounds exist.

TIP: Courts generally do not grant annulments where children have been born of the marriage or are expected, because that indicates that the couple lived together voluntarily at some point. Obtaining an annulment generally requires that the couple not cohabitate once the basis for an annulment is discovered.

Can I receive alimony after getting an annulment?

Yes. However, the alimony will be temporary. Permanent alimony or support payments are ordered when a marriage is dissolved only. The annulment is a declaration that the marriage never existed and therefore such payments are not available.

Is there a waiting period after an annulment is granted before I can remarry?

No. Typically laws only require parties to a divorce to wait a period of time before remarrying.

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