When you hear about people ending their marriages, the term annulment sometimes arises. Unlike divorce, which is the process which legally ends a valid marriage, annulment results in treating marriage as if it never existed or was illegal. In Florida, annulments can only be granted in certain situations. Here is what you need to know about annulment in Florida:
Grounds for Annulment
Florida law allows a couple to annul their marriage if there is:
- Bigamy- If either spouse is already married at the time the subsequent marriage occurred, the later marriage is considered void;
- Inability to consent- The inability of either party to consent to the marriage will render it voidable. The lack of capacity could be due to intellectual, physical, or mental impairment as well as the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Impotence- If a spouse is impotent and the other spouse did not know at the time they consented to marry, the marriage can be voided;
- Coercion- If either party was threatened into the marriage or entered into the union due to extreme duress, the marriage might be voidable;
- Restricted Age-If either spouse was underage at the time of the marriage and did not have permission from their parent or guardian to marry; the marriage may be annulled; and
- Fraud- If either spouse hid important facts about themselves or was deceptive in order to get the other spouse to marry them the marriage could be voidable. However, not every misrepresentation will qualify as fraud. Fraud that affects the marital relationship such as a spouse telling the other after marriage that he or she does not want to live with the other would be a reason for annulment. A spouse’s failure to disclose a medical condition such as diabetes may not necessarily qualify.
Children Born During an Annulled Marriage
If Florida, children born during a voidable marriage which was later annulled are considered to be legal children of both parents. In the instance where the marriage was void at its inception (i.e., bigamy), the children will not have the same status as their parents' marriage never existed under the law. However, in either case, the court has the power to determine child custody and support and to approve a parenting plan when the couple is in the process of annulment.
The Annulment Process
In Florida, the annulment process is similar to divorce in that it is a formal legal process wherein the parties are required to file documents and provide evidence to support their claims. If the couple acquired property while marriage, the court can divide it during annulment. The court will also decide child time-sharing, decision-making, and support.
If you are considering divorce or annulment in Florida, we can help you evaluate your case and understand your options. At the Draper Law Firm, we have experienced family law attorneys who understand the issues and laws concerning marriage dissolution and can provide you with the advice you need to understand this process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.