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An annulment is a legal procedure in both secular and religious legal systems that declares a marriage null and void. Annulments in Texas are available on a limited basis but may be available as an option under several different scenarios.
What is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment in Texas?
Under certain circumstances, a Texas court can declare your marriage invalid, which is called an annulment. Divorces and annulments in Texas are based on two opposing ideas concerning marriage.
- Divorce is based on the premise that your marriage is valid.
- An annulment is based on the premise that your marriage is invalid.
When Can a Court Declare a Marriage Invalid?
The Texas Family Code sets forth how you can qualify for an annulment.
According to Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 6, you may qualify for an annulment if one of the following seven scenarios applies to your marriage:
- A spouse is under the age of 18 and got married without parental consent;
- A spouse was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the marriage;
- Either spouse is impotent;
- A spouse was coerced into marriage by fraud, force or duress;
- Either spouse lacked the mental capacity to enter into the marriage;
- A spouse concealed a prior divorce that occurred within 30 days of your marriage; or
- The spouses were married within 72 hours of the issuance of the marriage license.
Each of these statuses has a different statute of limitations, or deadlines, by which you have to file for the annulment to qualify. If you do not file within that time period, then you will have to file for divorce to dissolve your marriage.
What Does a Court Consider to Grant an Annulment in Texas?
In addition to the above guidelines, the Courts will ask the following question in determining whether or not an annulment should be granted.
Did you and your spouse continue to live together after:
- You learned of the impotency;
- You learned of the concealed prior divorce;
- The alcohol or narcotics wore off;
- You learned of the mental capacity; or
- You learned of the fraud or after you were no longer under duress.
If you continued to reside with your spouse after meeting one of the qualifications, a Court must deny your request for an annulment. If you don’t qualify for an annulment, you can always file for divorce or a suit to declare the marriage void, depending on your circumstances.
Annulments in Texas: How Does Property Division Work?
There are many similarities between a divorce and an annulment in Texas. For example, in an annulment, the property acquired during the then marriage is subject to division by the Court. According to Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 7, the Court shall divide the property of the parties in a manner that the Court deems just and right.
What about my separate property?
The Court can also confirm any separate property, property acquired before the marriage or during the marriage by gift or inheritance, to the spouses.
Can I Change My Name Back to My Maiden Name After an Annulment?
Another similarity to divorce is either spouse can ask the court for a name change to reflect a name previously used. If a Court denies this request, the Court must state the reason for the denial.
What About the Children—What Happens to Them in an Annulment?
They still exist! If you and your spouse have children, the Court will issue orders for conservatorship, possession and access, child support, and health insurance. The Courts will require you to file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship in addition to the Original Petition to Annul Marriage.
Can I Request Spousal Support After Annulment in Texas?
One difference between an annulment and a divorce is the ability to request spousal support. The Texas Family Code does not allow for spousal support in annulment cases.
How Do I File for an Annulment?
If you believe you qualify for an annulment, then you will file an Original Petition to Annul Marriage in the district clerk’s office in the county:
- Where all or a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred;
- Where the respondent resided at the time the cause of action accrued; or
- (if 1 or 2 do not apply), Where you reside at the time the cause of action accrued.
Are There Timelines to Filing an Annulment?
It is important to remember that you won’t be able to qualify for an annulment if you and your spouse have cohabited/lived together after the qualifying incident has occurred. There are also other statutes of limitations that may apply in the following situations:
- You wed within 72 hours after filing for a marriage certificate, you have 30 days to file for annulment;
- One spouse was under 18 when you got married, you have until that spouse turns 18 to file for annulment;
- You didn’t know your spouse divorced within 30 days of your marriage, you have until your first anniversary to file for annulment.
We are Compassionate Family Law Attorneys in Texas
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We have board-certified attorneys on our staff who specialize in family law. Let our team protect you and your children.