In a perfect world, all divorces would end civilly with no conflict. Everything would be…
Generally, there are only two ways to end a marriage in Texas: divorce or the unfortunate loss of a spouse. However, another way to end a marriage in Texas is through an annulment. These dissolutions end a marriage that shouldn’t have been valid in the first place. An annulment allows you to turn back time to the moment in which you said “I do” to say “I don’t”. On the other hand, a divorce doesn’t void your marriage but terminates it, meaning that there will be a record of your marriage and a division of community property, issues concerning your children (if you have any), and debts that will still need to be dealt with.
What is an annulment?
An annulment is where a judge states that a marriage is invalid due to reasons that existed at the start of the marriage. If granted, the marriage is found to be invalid from existence. However, an annulment may have lasting effects on the spouses in areas such as property and children.
What is the difference between a divorce and annulment?
Spouses are treated as though they were never married. Once an annulment is complete, your legal status on forms will be “single” rather than “divorced”.
A second difference is that most states now allow a simple, no-fault divorce, which allows a couple to dissolve their marriage without having to prove that one of the parties engaged in misconduct. However, if you are pursuing an annulment, you must prove that there was a legal impediment to your marriage, which prevented it from being valid. Contrary to popular belief, annulments are rarely granted, because most people do not meet the requirements for an annulment.
What are the grounds for obtaining an annulment in Texas?
One of the following requirements must be met to obtain an annulment as opposed to a divorce.
- Fraud, duress, or force: A spouse used fraud, duress, or force in order to get the other party to enter into the marriage, and the parties have not voluntarily resided with one another since learning of the fraud or being released from the duress or force.
- Mental Incapacity: Courts can annul a marriage, depending on the facts, if a party had a mental incapacity that the other party was not aware of at the time the parties entered into the marriage.
- Incestuous: When the individuals married or in a registered domestic partnership are close blood relatives.
- Bigamous: If one spouse is already married to someone else at the time the parties entered into the marriage.
- Concealed divorce: If one spouse was divorced within 30 days of the date of the next marriage, the other spouse did not know of the recent divorce, then the innocent spouse may be able to seek an annulment if the parties do not continue to reside together upon learning of the concealed divorce, and the suit is filed within the first year of marriage.
- Underage: One spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage and a court did not issue an order removing the disabilities of the minor prior to the marriage.
- Intoxication: One or both spouses were under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the marriage, and therefore lacked the ability to consent to the marriage. However, the parties cannot have cohabitated together once the effects of the alcohol or narcotics have worn off.
- Impotence: When one spouse was permanently impotent and the other party did not know of the impotency at the time of the marriage, so long as the parties did not cohabitate upon the learning of the impotency.
In addition, in order to file an annulment in Texas, either:
- One of the spouses must live in Texas, or
- The events relating to the grounds for annulment occurred in Texas.
Annulments are not very common because of the stringent requirements. If you think you might qualify for annulment contact an experienced family lawyer today to discuss your case.
How long do I have to annul a marriage?
It is possible to get a marriage annulled but you have to act quickly upon learning of the reason you are requesting an annulment.
- If you were under the age of 18 when you got married, you have either 90 days from the date of marriage, or until you turn 18 to file, depending on your circumstances;
- If you get married within 72 hours after applying for a marriage license, you have 30 days to file for an annulment;
- You didn’t know that your spouse was divorced within 30 days of your marriage, you have until your first anniversary to file for an annulment.
It is important to note that if you continued to live with your spouse after knowing their offensive conduct, you are not eligible to file for an annulment. If someone doesn’t qualify for an annulment, they will likely qualify for a divorce or a suit to declare the marriage void.
What happens when I get an annulment in Texas?
At the time that the judge signs the decree of annulment in Texas, the marriage is declared invalid. If one would like to say that they were never married, legally they would be correct. However, the judge will decide issues regarding, property division, spousal maintenance, and a name change in the annulment process in court.
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we can help.
Deciding to go your separate ways with someone is always hard. However, if you are considering getting a divorce or annulment, it is important to speak to one of our family law attorneys. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we have skilled and compassionate attorneys that can help you tackle this difficult decision. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your legal options. We care, we can help.