A marriage is a legally binding contract. Just like other legally binding contracts, the parties involved must meet certain requirements in order to enter a marriage. If a marriage ceremony occurs despite these requirements not being met, the marriage is not valid. Individuals in invalid marriages can have their marriages annulled, which means that they are erased from the public record.
An annulment is not the same as a divorce. A divorce is the dismantling of a legal marriage, whereas an annulment is the recognition that the marriage was never legal in the first place. To have a marriage annulled, the couple must meet one or more of the grounds permitted by Florida law.
Grounds for Annulment
Bigamy. If one of the parties was legally married to another when the marriage occurred, the second marriage is not valid;
Inability to consent to the marriage. If one or both of the parties were unable to consent to the marriage at the time it was performed, which could be due to the influence of alcohol or another drug or mental or physical incapacity;
Impotence. If one spouse is impotent and the other did not know until the couple was married, the marriage may be void;
If either party entered the marriage under coercion, threat, or any other form of duress, the marriage may be void;
Fraud. If one or both spouses concealed relevant facts or misrepresented him- or herself in order to marry the other, the marriage can potentially be void. Not all representations are grounds for annulment. Those that impact the couple’s married life, such as a spouse revealing after the marriage that he or she has no intention of living with the other, are valid grounds for annulment; and
If one or both spouses was underage at the time of the marriage and did not have permission from a parent or guardian to marry, the marriage may be annulled.
The Legal Annulment Process
An individual can file an annulment order with the circuit court of the county where he or she lives. The individual who petitions for the annulment must provide proof that one of the above grounds applies to his or her marriage. After reviewing the case, the court may annul the marriage.
If necessary, the court may establish a child custody, child support, or spousal support order as it would in a divorce case. Generally, both partners leave the marriage with their separate property, but if they do have marital assets, the court may divide them according to Florida law.
Draper Law Office can Help you Seek an Annulment or Divorce
When a marriage is invalid, it can be annulled. There are significant differences between a divorce and an annulment that an experienced divorce lawyer can explain to you. If you feel your marriage might not be valid or if you are considering filing for divorce, contact our team at Draper Law Office today at (866) 767-4711 or online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with us.