Family Law

How, Where and When Can I Get an Annulment?

By Kristina Otterstrom, Attorney
Not only does an annulment end your marriage, it declares it invalid or void—as if the wedding ceremony never happened. Because annulments are so drastic, it's difficult to qualify for one. Learn whether you may be able to annul your marriage.

Can I Have My Marriage Annulled?

You may have personal or religious reasons for seeking an annulment. However, you can’t obtain an annulment unless you have “grounds” or legally recognized reasons for one. Like divorces, state law governs annulments, and the rules vary from state to state. While there are similarities, you’ll need to verify the particular rules of your state to see if you qualify.

Generally, an annulment may be granted if:

  • your spouse was married to someone else when you got married
  • your marriage is incestuous—meaning you married a relative
  • your spouse was of unsound mind at the time you married
  • your marriage consent was obtained by fraud
  • your spouse is impotent, or
  • you or your spouse was under the age of consent at the time you married.

When you ask for an annulment, you’ll need to cite your ground(s). Additionally, you’ll need to supply clear evidence supporting your claims. Typically, couples can’t agree to annul their marriage. A judge will have to review the annulment complaint and supporting evidence. The court will order the annulment only if there’s enough evidence to prove your ground.

Where Do I File My Annulment Action?

Generally, you should file your annulment action in the county where you live. Some states have residency requirements ranging from a few weeks to 6 months or more. If you moved recently, you’ll need to check your current state’s requirements and make sure you qualify. If you file an annulment action before you meet state residency requirements, a judge can throw it out.

Additionally, you may also be able to file the annulment request in the county where you were married. Nevada law allows couples to seek an annulment if they’ve lived in one of the state’s counties for 6 weeks or were married in Nevada. If you’re having regrets about your drive-thru chapel wedding in Las Vegas, you may want to file for an annulment in Nevada. If you’re not sure where to file, check with a local divorce attorney.

When Can I File an Annulment Action?

Annulments usually follow a short marriage. However, the time requirements for seeking an annulment will depend on your state's laws and the facts of your case. For example, if you’re seeking an annulment on fraud grounds, your time limit will depend on when you discovered the fraud, not on your actual marriage date.

Problems can arise if you have a strict timeframe for filing your annulment action but don’t yet meet the residency requirements of your state because of a recent move. In that case, you may be able to file an annulment petition in the state you moved from or in the county where you were married. Annulment actions can be complex and riddled with specific deadlines. In some cases, working with an attorney can reduce your stress and make the process run more smoothly.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What is the timeframe for filing an annulment action in my state?
  • Do the grounds for annulment make any difference in the timeframe for filing?
  • Can I file an annulment action where I currently live even if I plan to move in a few months? Will that affect my annulment proceeding?
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