Marriage Annulment Basics

A marriage annulment is a legal procedure that dissolves a couple's marital status by establishing that a valid marriage never existed.

By WomansDivorce | Answers by Brette Sember, J.D.

In effect, it nullifies the marriage, returning the parties to their prior single status. It's a common misconception that short marriages can be annulled, but the length of the marriage is not a qualifying factor.

Generally, for a marriage to be declared invalid, one of the following grounds for annulment must be met:

  • One or both parties were not old enough to enter the marriage contract;
  • There exists a close blood relationship between the parties;
  • One party was still legally married when the current marriage occurred;
  • One party was impotent and unable to consummate the marriage;
  • One of the spouse's didn't have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage contract. (i.e. due to drunkenness or mental disability)
  • One of the spouses entered into the marriage under duress, threat, or force.
  • The marriage was entered into fraudulently. This may be due to the concealment of impotence, criminal history, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.

To get an annulment, a person first needs to meet the residency requirements of the state that they live in. The annulment procedure is similar to that of a standard divorce, so it's best to seek the advice of an attorney before your proceed.

Marriage Annulment FAQs

The following answers to readers questions may also help you understand more about your own situation.

Marriage Validity - You may get an annulment if it is determined that the marriage was not lawfully valid. Find out what instances qualify.

Divorce vs. Annulment - Find out whether you qualify for an annulment or if you need to get a divorce.

Children's Issues in Annulment - Learn how an annulment impacts parental rights, responsibilities, and more.

Religious Annulment - A religious annulment is a declaration from the church that the marriage is invalid.

How to get an Annulment - Find out about time limits, what it takes to file, contesting an annulment, and more.

What are the grounds for an annulment? - Legal grounds for annulment vary by state, and there is often confusion on what qualifies. Find out what the legal expert says...

How annulment affects assets and debts - Learn how finances are impacted by an annulment.

Post-annulment issues - Find out if you can take back your maiden name, how soon you can get married, what your marital status is, and more.

Is this a valid marriage?

Is my marriage valid if my Mom had to sign for me, but she wasn't my legal guardian?

Sabrina's Question: I was married when I was 17. I needed my legal guardian's consent so my mom signed, but my mom was not my legal guardian at the time. Is my marriage valid or is it grounds for an annulment?

Brette's Answer: The question is if you are certain she was not your legal guardian. If your parents had joint legal custody, then she was, even if you didn't live with her. If she was not your legal guardian and consent was required, then it sounds like an annulment is a possibility.

Was the marriage valid if there was a license but no ceremony?

Johana's Question: One day I was browsing through the courts of clerks and I entered my husband's name in the marriage license search. His name came up and it states that he applied for a marriage license; however he never went back to actually get married. Is that marriage valid?

Brette's Answer: A marriage is not valid unless the ceremony is performed and the license has been signed by the officiant and returned. You should check with the court clerk to determine the status of that license.

Is my marriage valid if there is a misspelling on the marriage license?

Theresa's Question: There is a mistake on my marriage license. Neither of my parents' names is spelled as they are on their birth certificates. Is my marriage legal? I no longer wish to be married.

Brette's Answer: It is unlikely that a minor misspelling could make the marriage invalid. Just get a divorce. Good luck.

Is my marriage valid if my divorce wasn't noted on the marriage certificate?

Catherine's Question: What do I do? I got married 5 months ago, a good faith marriage. But I recently discovered that my first marriage which ended in divorce was not recorded on the marriage certificate.

Brette's Answer: Failing to disclose you are previously divorced won't make your marriage invalid most likely. You can amend the certificate to include the missing information. Call the office of the clerk that issued it and ask what to do.

Would I qualify for an annulment if my Dad performed the wedding?

Misty's Question: Could I qualify for an annulment if my Father preformed the ceremony and signed our marriage license?

Brette's Answer: If he was not authorized by the state to perform marriages, then yes. If this is the case, you might not even need an annulment since the marriage was never valid.

Is our marriage legal if we married before his divorce was finalized?

Michelle: We were married 1 month before his divorce was actually signed by the judge. Is our marriage legal? We love each other and want to make our marriage legal. What is the best thing to do in our circumstances?

Brette's Answer: It's not a legal marriage if he was legally married to someone else at the time. The easiest solution is to get married again.

Do we need an annulment before we can get remarried?

Dana's Question: My husband and I got married four months ago. We spoke to his law firm and they said his divorce was final. It turns out that it wasn't. The judge signed the divorce papers two months ago. Do we need an annulment before we can get remarried? One lawyer told us no because the marriage isn't valid.

Brette's Answer: If you were not legally married you cannot get an annulment. You can marry at any time if the first divorce has been finalized

Will a backdated a declaration of marriage invalidate our marriage?

Dana's Question: My husband had a wedding ceremony in California 17 years ago to another woman, but no marriage license was applied for or turned into the state so that his "ex" could continue to claim widows' benefits from her late husband. They lived together 13 years and then he left and moved to another state. Since there isn't common law in California, he assumed that he was not legally married to the other woman. We met and married last year. Now his "ex" has gone to a judge in California and requested a declaration of marriage. The judge issued the declaration without talking to my husband or being informed that he is now married to someone else. The judge dated the declaration back 17 years, which would pre-date our marriage. When we filled out the marriage license and it asked if he was free to marry, we believed he was since no such marriage existed at that time. What is the answer here? We love each other and we want to remain together.

Brette's Answer: I don't know the answer to this since much will depend on case law in your state. The safest answer, is get a divorce from the previous wife and have another marriage ceremony once that's done.

Is my current marriage valid if my previous marriage was annulled?

Cheryl's Question: I have been married for 17 years. When we married, my soon to be ex told me we needed to get married before he went to court so that he could win custody. At the time, I was legally married to someone else, but later had the marriage annulled. He convinced me that that the annulment would make it as though the first marriage never existed and our marriage would be legal. Due to our age difference I totally believed him. Now he is trying to get an annulment based on the fact that we were NEVER legally married and he is trying to keep all the assets and push me aside. I'm really upset as we have 6 children together over the years.

Brette's Answer: If you were legally married at the time of the second marriage, it is eligible for annulment, even if that first marriage was later annulled. It doesn't change the fact that you were married to someone else at the time of marriage.

Assets are divided in an annulment just as they would be in a divorce. Children born into the marriage are legitimate even if the marriage is annulled. Get an attorney.

Do I need to get my first marriage annulled so my second is valid?

Glenda's Question: I married at 18 to a man that was 40 and was with him for twenty years. I didn't know until 20 years later that he had never divorced his first wife. After I left the marriage, I married a man who was 80 and he died in my arms this year. Now because my Marriage License stated my "other married name", I am told that with the discrepancy on my marriage license to my second husband that I may not be able to draw his pension. What in the world should I do; get an annulment?

Brette's Answer: You need to get an attorney to sort this out. Your first marriage was never valid if your ex was previously married and did not divorce. You need a declaration that that marriage was never valid.

Is our marriage legal if there was a no-contact order when we married?

Ann's Question: If there is a no contact order between two people in one state and they go to another state and get married, is that a legal marriage? If so, could the marriage be annulled?

Brette's Answer: A no-contact order does not mean you cannot marry. After all, if you are both in agreement it is possible to get such an order lifted. However if an order such as this was in place, it provides a good argument to show the marriage was not consensual - that some kind of force or threat was involved, so that would be grounds for an annulment.

How should I proceed if I don't know if I'm legally married to him?

Tina's Question: I've been in a very bad, abusive relationship for 28 years and we've been married for 20 years. We were advised that our marriage was null and void as he had paid someone for a quick Dominican Republic divorce from his first wife that was not recognized in California. Therefore, I'm assuming I'm not legally married to him. Do I have to get a marriage annulment or what legal process do I have to use to ensure I'm no longer married to him and to split the property we accumulated living together for all these years?

Brette's Answer: If you're not legally married, then you don't qualify for divorce or annulment. First I think you need to have someone verify that your marriage is not legal. If it isn't, then I highly recommend you go see a mediator who can help you figure out what to do.

Will the marriage become void if one spouse deserts the other?

Regina's Question: If a spouse leaves the other and moves out of the state without providing a new address or contact information, will the marriage eventually become void after some time or does the abandoned spouse still have to file for divorce?

Brette's Answer: No. You have to get a divorce to end your marriage.

Is our marriage still valid if my husband got deported?

Brette's Answer: Yes.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Should I get a divorce or an annulment?

Jennifer's Question: I don't know if I should get a divorce or an annulment? We've been married for six months and have no assets together, no kids or anything that would need to be divided. If I have to talk to a lawyer, does it usually cost just to get some answers to some of my questions?

Brette's Answer: To get an annulment, you must meet some very specific criteria. If you don't qualify for an annulment, you should be able to do a simple uncontested divorce. Most attorneys offer a free consultation where they will discuss the generalities of your case and how they think it would be best to proceed. Since you've been married for such a short time, the property settlement should be relatively easy. Call and get a free consultation or find out if there are free or no cost legal services available (call the bar association in your area and ask). Good luck.

My husband filed for divorce before I could file for an annulment

Rachelle: I am in the process of filing for an annulment due to fraud (undisclosed illegal status prior to marriage) my husband has filed for a divorce prior to my getting my annulment papers filed....what do I do now?

Brette's Answer: Go to the next court date and ask to have the proceedings combined into the annulment proceeding (by dismissing the divorce), or ask to have the divorce converted to an annulment proceeding. Just explain to the judge what is going on.

Is an annulment possible after you've been divorced?

Kathy's Question: I was divorced thirty years ago, now my ex-husband wants an annulment. Is this possible?

Brette's Answer: Since you are already legally divorced, I am assuming he is asking for a religious annulment. If your ex wants to marry again in the Catholic Church, he will need this. You should consult your clergy about any questions you have and to understand how the process works.

Can the judge erase the record of ever being married?

Adalynn's Question: After or during a divorce process, can I request the judge that I want to erase the record of ever being married to that person and just be known as never married?

Brette's Answer: If that is what you want, you need to file for an annulment, but you need to make sure you qualify. Your state court's web site should have this information.

Can I divorce my second husband if I'm still married to my first husband?

Lisa's Question: I just found out that I'm still married to who I thought was my ex-husband in California. I married someone else after I moved to Oklahoma and have been married to him for 6 years. Now we want a divorce. How do I proceed?

Brette's Answer: If you're still married to your ex, you can't get a divorce from your current partner. You can separate though and work with a mediator or attorney to divide your assets and debts.

Children's Issues in Annulment

Would a child of an annulled marriage be considered illegitimate?

Elizabeth's Question: If a lady was 3 weeks pregnant before she got married, but got an annulment due to fraud, is the child illegitimate?

Brette's Answer: All children born during marriage are considered legitimate. It doesn't matter when the pregnancy began. An annulment has no effect on the legitimacy of children born into the marriage.

How is custody and support affected by an annulment?

Kristen's Question: My marriage is being annulled due to bigamy. What would happen with the child support issues and custody issues? Is it treated any differently than it would be if we got a divorce?

Brette's Answer: It really makes little difference whether you end up with a divorce or an annulment. Either way, the court must decide issues of custody and child support. And should you get an annulment, your child is still considered "legitimate".

Would an annulment affect his parental rights if he isn't the father?

Melinda's Question: I got pregnant by another man who left me when he found out he was going to be a father. When I was seven months pregnant, my husband and I decided to get married so the child could have a father. My daughter is now four months old and he wants out. If we are able to get an annulment, what happens to him for assuming parental rights?

Brette's Answer: An annulment has no impact on parental rights. In this case the child is presumed to be his since any child born during a marriage is legally the child of both parents. If he does not want to continue to be her father, he can initiate a paternity case. If you don't want him to be the father, you can do the same thing.

How would an annulment affect my children financially?

Kathy's Question: How would a marriage annulment affect my children financially, would they still be his heirs?

Brette's Answer: In general an annulment does not mean your children are illegitimate. It has no financial effect on your children and has no impact on inheritance.

Religious Annulment

How do I get a religious annulment?

Laura's Question: We are in the process of getting a divorce after almost 23 years. I would also like to start my religious annulment. Do you know how long an annulment takes and if there are classes I must take? Are there religious attorneys you can hire to help get an annulment?

Brette's Answer: Contact your priest for information about a Catholic annulment. It can be a long process, but there are advocates who can help you through the process. There are no classes, but a bureaucracy that it must wind its way through. You can find out more about getting a religious annulment at

Can he get an annulment if he was married in a Jewish ceremony?

Carolina's Question: I am getting married in September to a guy who has been divorced for three years. I want a Catholic ceremony but the church is asking for his annulment. They didn't have a church wedding, but were married at a hotel in a Jewish ceremony. We called his minister but they said only the Catholic Church does annulments. Where do we go to get an annulment?

Brette's Answer: You would need to contact the rabbi who performed the ceremony and follow his instructions. A Jewish annulment is called a "get."

Can I contest a religious annulment?

Robin's Question: My ex-husband and I were married for almost 25 years. We've been divorced for 1 year now. He's dating a much younger girl and she wants to get married in the Catholic Church. He's looking into an annulment, but I don't feel he deserves to be granted one. He is not a stand-up guy and shouldn't be considered as such in the Catholic Church. How can I contest the annulment?

Brette's Answer: Your priest can advise you about the religious annulment process and whether it can be contested. Good luck.

Does a religious annulment legally end my marriage?

Lily's Question: If I had a religious annulment and remarried, is the second marriage valid?

Brette's Answer: No. A religious annulment does not legally annul or end your marriage. Good luck.

Am I considered divorced or single if I got a religious annulment?

Tina's Question: I've been divorced for over 25 years and my marriage was annulled within the Catholic Diocese. When a question appears on a government form for tax purposes, should I check off "Divorced" as my status or am I able to check off "Single"?

Brette's Answer: Unless you received an annulment from your state, you are legally divorced. A church annulment is a completely different situation.

Is being gay grounds for an annulment?

Yvonne's Question: My fiancé's marriage ended 11 years ago when he found out that his wife of 8 years was a lesbian and having an affair with the live in babysitter. We want to get married and he is divorced, but we can't marry in a church unless the marriage is annulled. Does he have grounds for annulment?

Brette's Answer: A religious annulment is an entirely different thing than a legal annulment. He needs to talk to a priest about the steps and requirements, which are vastly different than a legal annulment.

Is a church wedding possible if his first marriage wasn't legal?

Evelyn's Question: My fiancé and I want to get married in the Catholic church. He was previously married through the Church in another country (just a religious ceremony and not through the court). She deserted him one month after the wedding, ten years ago. She is now re-married. Would her actions (i.e. committing adultery) be grounds for an annulment?

Brette's Answer: If he was not legally married, you are free to marry in the US. It sounds like you need to talk to a priest to determine what needs to be done to be free to marry in the church.

Do we need an annulment to get remarried in the church?

Kateri's Question: I am Catholic and 4 years ago I was married to a non-Catholic in a Catholic church after going to pre-candidate classes. We were legally divorced last fall because of my husband's infidelity. We have since gone to couples counseling and are considering remarriage. To remarry in a Catholic church would I need to get an annulment?

Brette's Answer: You need to check with your priest, but if you were married in the eyes of the church, generally you need an annulment if you want to marry again in the church.

How to get an annulment

Should I get an annulment right after the marriage?

Michelle's Question: I am getting married in 2 weeks. I am not in love with the person I am about to marry, but I feel so much pressure from my family to marry him. Can I get an annulment right after the marriage?

Brette's Answer: If you do not want to be married it is much simpler and less expensive to put a stop to it now. Any legal proceeding - divorce or annulment will cost additional money. You might consider seeing a therapist who can help you determine what you really want. You could postpone the wedding until that point.

Is there a time limit to be able to get an annulment?

Julia's Question: How long do you have after you get married to get an annulment?

Brette's Answer: There is no time limit, however most people who get annulments tend to get them within the first year.

How long does it usually take to get an annulment?

Rhonda's Question: How long does it usually take for an annulment process?

Brette's Answer: If it is not contested, it is generally fairly quick (several months, depending on court calendars).

Is it possible to get a free annulment?

Mona's Question: Can I get a no-cost annulment?

Brette's Answer: Annulments are not free. Like any other court procedure, there are filing and court fees. These can be waived if you can prove you are indigent. If you use an attorney, you will pay an hourly rate. Consult an attorney about what your options are.

Can I prepare the annulment paperwork myself?

Dorothy's Question: I want to get an annulment with the basis of fraud, however I don't know if I can do it myself or if I need a lawyer. I never lived with my husband and I believe he married me just to get a legal status in the US. If I file for annulment under fraud, how will this affect him? (I don't want to make it a big mess either)

Brette's Answer: I would suggest you see an attorney. An annulment is not as common a legal proceeding as a divorce, so you should have some legal counsel. There are some attorneys that are willing to help you prepare documents yourself for a reduced fee, so you may be able to find someone who will work in that kind of arrangement.

Which state should I file for an annulment in?

Question: I want to annul my marriage. We were married in Hawaii, but now live in California. Can he contest the annulment and where should I file?

Brette's Answer: You file in the state of your residence. Yes, he can contest the annulment.

Can I get an annulment if we married in a different country?

Jay's Question: I got married 3 months ago under a threat. I loved him enough to travel to his country. A few days before the wedding I discovered he was cheating and I wanted to back out, but he took my travel documents and even the police couldn't help me. He eventually gave me my documents and I now want to get an annulment. Can I get one if the marriage was outside the US? Must he be present for me to be granted one?

Brette's Answer: You have to meet residency requirements to file, so check your state requirements. He will have to be served, whether he shows up will be up to him. Good luck!

Can he file for an annulment without notifying me?

Barbara's Question: Can my husband file for annulment without my knowledge?

Brette Answers: No. You must receive notice of the proceeding.

How was my marriage annulled if we have kids and I wasn't notified?

Melisa: I just found out today that my marriage was annulled by my husband while he was incarcerated. I'm really upset about this because we have kids together so I don't understand how it was annulled.

Brette's Answer: You should have received notice of the court proceeding and if you didn't it may be invalid. Annulments can be granted even when there are children.

How can I find out why my marriage was annulled?

Helena's Question: I was married in California to a US citizen about forty years ago. When I returned to the UK to be with my parents because I was pregnant, my husband told me he had met somebody else and he did not want me back. Sometime later, I was told my marriage was annulled. To this day I do not know why or how this was done. I never got child support. Can I find out now why my marriage was annulled?

Brette: You would need to contact the courthouse in the county where you were married or where you lived. It is a public record. Child support could have been determined separately.

Can my husband just get annulment if I don't want it?

Becky's Question: Can my husband just get annulment if I don't want it? We've only been married 5 months.

Brette's Answer: If your husband seeks an annulment and your situation meets the state requirements, the court can grant it over your objections. The length of the marriage is irrelevant.

Do you need proof the marriage wasn't consummated?

Question: My husband knows that cheating is not a reason for an annulment, so he is claiming our marriage wasn't consummated, which is not true. Do you need proof of the marriage wasn't consummated or can he get an annulment without proof?

Brette's Answer: You can contest his grounds since they are false. The proof would be from testimony.

Can I get a marriage annulment if my husband has been deported?

Susan's Question: Can I get an annulment if my husband has been deported?

Brette's Answer: The problem is whether he can be given adequate notice of the proceeding. Talk to an attorney who can discuss your state's laws.

How do I get an annulment if I can't locate my husband?

Question: I found out on my wedding night that my husband was gay, and I haven't seen him since (it's been 8 years). Can I get the marriage annulled, and how do I proceed if I can't locate him?

Brette Answers: If you can't locate him, the court will allow service by publication - a notice in the newspaper. This does sound like grounds for annulment.

How do I get a copy of his first marriage certificate for my annulment?

Jazlynn's Question: My husband is legally married to another woman, and I was told that I couldn't get an annulment unless I have a copy of his first marriage certificate. How do I get this?

Brette's Answer: Marriage certificates are public record. Find out where they got married and go get it.

Can I still get an annulment if he divorces his first wife?

Kathie's Question: I just filed for an annulment because I found out that my husband is still married. The day before I filed for the annulment, he filed for a divorce from his first wife. Will I get my annulment if he gets his divorce first?

Brette's Answer: It doesn't matter if he gets a divorce. He was legally married at the time of your marriage and your marriage is not valid.

Can his family file to have our marriage annulled?

Ronnie's Question: We got married in April and are in the process of moving in together right now. He is 88 and I am 28. I am afraid that his family will try to have the marriage annulled. He has never been declared incompetent and neither one of us want to annul the marriage, but I'm afraid his family may try. Can they do that?

Brette's Answer: His family cannot annul the marriage unless they are named guardians for him by the court due to incompetency or if he signs over power of attorney to them. If he is not incompetent and he has not given them this power, they cannot annul the marriage. I suspect his family will be most concerned about his estate. If he intends to name you as his primary beneficiary, they may attempt to challenge it should he pass away. He needs a good estate attorney who can create a solid will with solid proof of his competency.

Can I have my daughter's marriage annulled if I had to sign for her to get married?

Samantha's Question: I signed for my 17 year old daughter to get married and now realize that it was a big mistake. Can I, being her mother, get an annulment, even if neither of them wants to have the marriage annulled?

Brette's Answer: No, you can't. You consented to the marriage and it is legal. Good luck.

Grounds for annulment

Can I get an annulment if we've only been married for a short time?

Kimberly's Question: My husband and I were married four months ago. There were issues in the relationship on both sides before our marriage, and unfortunately the issues still remain. We can't seem to agree when it comes to his child from his previous marriage. I want a marriage annulment if possible. I heard you could get that if you have been married less than 1 year.

Brette's Answer: An annulment has nothing to do with the time period. It is all about the reason for the annulment. Annulments are normally granted when one of the parties was underage at the time of marriage and proper consent wasn't obtained or when there was some kind of fraud involved. This means one party said things that weren't true to get the other person to enter the marriage. Other grounds for annulment would include mental illness, intoxication, impotency (inability to consummate the marriage) or because the parties are related. You should consult an attorney who can advise you if you qualify.

Can I get an annulment if the minister didn't use his legal name?

Mary's Question: I was married nine months ago and am now considering an annulment. Our minister and two witnesses that signed our marriage license used their baptismal names instead of their legal names. Would this be grounds to receive an annulment?

Brette's Answer: No. An annulment has to do with fraud or mistake on the part of the parties.

Is deception grounds for getting a marriage annulled?

Janie's Question: I recently found out that my husband is HIV positive. I believe he knew about his condition when we got married, but didn't tell me because I wouldn't have married him. Can I get an annulment?

Brette's Answer: Fraud is a reason for annulment. If he knew and didn't tell you, it's most likely grounds in your state. Check with an attorney to be sure.

Is it fraud if she told him she wasn't a drug addict?

L's Question: My brother went through a horrible break up with his girlfriend whom he has a child with. Within 4 months of the breakup, he remarried his ex-wife who said she was not a drug addict anymore, but she spends everything he makes on pills. Would this be considered fraud on her part and the fact that he was under emotional duress from being left with a 3 month old baby be grounds for an annulment?

Brette's Answer: Having a child has nothing to do with an annulment. Telling him she was not a drug addict may not be fraud if she really believes it.

Is fraud committed after the marriage grounds for an annulment?

Stephanie's Question: I have been married to my husband for 2 years, and I want to file for an annulment. I recently discovered that just 4 months after our wedding, he co-signed a mortgage for a co-worker and never disclosed it to me. I only found out because there are now foreclosure proceedings against my husband and his co-worker. Would I be able to file an annulment based on fraud? Or is that impossible, since this occurred after our wedding?

Brette's Answer: Annulments are based on things that happen before or at the time of the marriage. You can certainly file for divorce. You need to be aware however that this debt is a marital debt since it was incurred during marriage. You need to get an attorney.

Can I get an annulment if he concealed things from me?

Dianne's Question: I got married 10 months ago, and just now found out of my husband extensive criminal record, involving fraud, back child support payments, bad checks, assault, tickets and DUI's against him. There may be more - I'm numb right now. First, our names are not together on any assets, and I haven't even changed my name to his. Am I now legally responsible for his debt? Can I file for an annulment and will not being aware of everything stand in my favor at all?

Brette Replies: It sounds like you might be a good candidate for an annulment. Talk to an attorney. If you get an annulment, you won't be liable for the debts.

Can my marriage be annulled if he didn't tell me about his child?

Maylene's Question: My husband didn't tell me he had a child with his previous live-in partner. He only told me right after we got married because he knew I would not marry him if he had a kid before me. Will this be a ground for annulment?

Brette's Answer: This is generally not grounds for annulment but you should talk with an attorney in your area who handles family law to get a read on your state laws and advice for your personal situation.

Can I get an annulment if he didn't tell me he didn't believe in God?

Deborah's Question: I have been married for a little over six month and before my marriage my husband never told me he did not believe in God. I have been a Catholic since early childhood and am a true believer. I fear going to church because of his anger when talking about God and his refusal to ever go to church with me. I did not know this before our marriage and I do not want to be in a marriage that I cannot practice my faith. Am I eligible to receive an annulment?

Brette's Answer: Unless there is fraud involved in this, then it is unlikely your state annulment laws would cover it. Go see a divorce attorney for a consultation about your options.

Can I get an annulment if he's married to someone in another country?

Linda's Question: My husband is married to another woman outside the US. Could we get out marriage annulled because of this?

Brette's Answer: Yes, if the marriage is a legal marriage in that country it is recognized by the US as a legal marriage.

Can I get an annulment if he married someone during our separation?

Jennifer's Question: My husband traveled overseas without me, and it has been over three years since I have seen or heard from him. I heard from an acquaintance that he had remarried. Do I qualify for an annulment? If not, how do I get divorced quickly?

Brette's Answer: You do not qualify for an annulment because he married again. You can file for divorce on your own. You will have to attempt to give him some kind of notice. Consult with the court clerk. It sounds like notice by publication might be the way to go, but you need to attempt to give notice first then get court approval for notice by publication.

Is mental incapacity grounds for annulment?

Tammy's Question: I was married 5 months ago. However, during the brief length of our courtship and our marriage (and recently afterwards) I was heavily sedated on prescription pain medications. I was extremely mentally incapacitated because of the medication, and there was never any time that I knew him that I was sober. I would have in no way formed a relationship with this man outside of the influence of these drugs I was put on. We never lived together and he moved back to his home country two weeks after we were married. Do I qualify for a marriage annulment?

Brette's Answer: It does sound like you would qualify for an annulment. You need to talk to an attorney to determine where to file. Good luck.

Would PTSD be grounds for an annulment?

Question: I married my husband a few days after he came back from deployment, but he is not the same person he was during courtship. He was diagnosed with PTSD from his tour in Iraq a couple months after we married, and has been in a mental health hospital four times so far. Would an illness such as PTSD fall under mental illness and be grounds for an annulment? He technically developed PTSD before we were married, but wasn't diagnosed with it until afterward. Do you think we would qualify?

Brette's Answer: I think you need to talk to an attorney. There are likely several avenues possible as grounds for you.

Can I get an annulment if he only married me to get a green card?

Janet's Question: After being married for less than a month, my husband confessed that he had only married me so that he could get a green card. Is this grounds for an annulment?

Brette's Answer: It certainly sounds like grounds for an annulment. Talk to an attorney.

Can I get an annulment if I felt forced to marry him?

Wanda's Question: I got married 2 months ago. We were being accused of fraternization and decided to get married prior to the investigation. I realize now I was under pressure and rushed due to the investigation. Can my marriage be annulled?

Brette's Answer: If you didn't enter into the marriage of your own free will, then you qualify. You should talk with an attorney who can discuss the entire situation with you.

Is it possible to get an annulment if we rushed into getting married?

Esmeralda's Question: My husband and I married about a month ago. I personally think we rushed into things when he got into some legal issues and I want to get an annulment. Is it possible?

Brette's Answer: Changing your mind is not a reason for annulment. Each state has its own laws so check yours. Annulment is granted only when the marriage was not valid from the start. 

Can I get an annulment if the marriage wasn't consummated?

Laura's Question: My husband and I got married about 3 months ago and never consummated the marriage. We have never been in love and we got forced to get married. Do I qualify for an annulment?

Brette's Answer: If you truly were forced to marry and it was not consensual, then yes, you qualify.

Can I get an annulment if I never consummated my marriage to a prison inmate?

Heather's Question: I married a man in prison (the marriage was performed in the county jail) almost 25 years ago, but we never consummated the marriage. We haven’t seen or spoken with each other in years. May I file for an annulment? We have never comingled any finances or property.

Brette's Answer: You should check with an attorney but it sounds like you may qualify for an annulment. 

Can I get an annulment if he was using someone else's name?

Question: I have been married for 5 years and separated for 2. He's been lying to me from the start. He was an illegal immigrant, and I also found out that he was using his deceased brother's name. Would that be grounds for an annulment?

Brette's Answer: That sounds like it could constitute fraud, so it is possible you could get an annulment. Talk to an attorney.

Circumstances which generally do not qualify for a marriage annulment

  • Is infidelity grounds to annul the marriage?
  • Is abandonment grounds for an annulment?
  • Can I get an annulment if he didn't honor the marriage vows?
  • Can I get an annulment if he changed his mind about having kids?
  • Can I get an annulment if we fight all the time?
  • Can I get an annulment if I'm just not happy anymore?

Brette's Answer: No. An annulment is only available if there was mistake or someone committed fraud at the time of marriage. What happens *after* you are married has nothing to do with it. Too many people misunderstand this. I get lots of questions from people who have problems after the marriage and think that they can get an annulment. Problems arise and people change their minds and it doesn't mean you can get an annulment. Failure to live up to expectations after marriage is not grounds for an annulment. You can get a divorce though, or try marital counseling.

Is abuse grounds for marriage annulment?

Kallie's Question: I have been married for 4 month and a month ago my husband physically abused me. We have been separated for a month now. Can I have my marriage annulled?

Brette's Answer: There are two kinds of annulments. There is a legal annulment and a religious annulment. A legal annulment can happen when the marriage was not valid at the time it was entered into, either because one of the parties was underage, mentally ill, or because fraud was involved, or if one of the parties lied to other about an important fact, such as the ability to have children. The fact that abuse happened after the marriage by itself is not likely to be enough to obtain an annulment. A religious annulment is available through your church and you must meet whatever requirements are set through church doctrine. Good luck.

Can I get an annulment if my father had to sign for me to get married?

Danielle's Question: I was barely 20 years old when I married, and I had to have my father's signed consent to apply for a marriage license. I've tried to make it work for 4 years and realize that it's impossible. Can I now consider an annulment instead of a divorce, considering my age at the time of marriage?

Brette's Answer: If you fulfilled legal requirements by having a parental signature, an annulment is not an option.

Property Issues and Annulment

Is he entitled to my settlement if our marriage is annulled?

Shannon's Question: I was only married for 3 months. We had no assets, but I had gotten a settlement check from an accident 3 months before we go married, (I believe this was why he asked me to marry him). Can I get the marriage annulled and is he legally entitled to "my" money?

Brette's Answer: You can get an annulment only if you meet annulment requirements - such as some kind of fraud or mistake at the time of marriage. Anything you had before marriage is separate property and cannot be claimed by him.

What happens to joint debts if we get an annulment?

Jennifer's Question: I have all the grounds for an annulment but we have debts in both our names, what will happen with these? Also, if there are children, is there a 6 month waiting period like with a divorce?

Brette's Answer: An annulment is treated just like a divorce, with assets and debts being divided. You need to check with an attorney to determine what waiting periods are in your state.

Issues after annulment

Would there be a legal copy of my annulment?

Darlene's Question: If my marriage was annulled over 30 years ago, would there be a legal copy of it?

Brette's Answer: Yes. It is public record. Contact the court clerk's office in the county where it was handled.

How do I answer when asked “Have you been married before”?

Sherie's Question: What’s the best answer to the question “have you been married before”? I was married, but the married was annulled.

Brette's Answer: If your marriage was annulled it is legally "erased." In the eyes of the legal system it was not a legal marriage. 

Can I claim my marital status as single if I got an annulment?

Oz's Question: I got my first marriage annulled. Do I have to declare that marriage when I get married again or can I declare my status as single (with no history whatsoever)?

Brette's Answer: If a marriage is annulled that means it did not legally exist and does not count as a marriage. Good luck.

How can I take back my maiden name after an annulment?

Ella's Question: I am getting an annulment. While married, I changed my name on my social security card. How do I get it where I can change my name back to what it was before I got married?

Brette's Answer: Make sure your order of annulment states you have the right to do this.

Does an annulment erase the marriage for both parties?

G's Question: Since one person is requesting an annulment does that mean the marriage is erased for both parties or just the one that files?

Brette's Answer: If it is granted, it applies to both spouses.

Can I get married before the annulment is finalized?

Estela's Question: The day I got married, I found out that my husband was still married to his ex-wife. I understand I qualify for an annulment and have just started the process. My current boyfriend and I want to get married in the next month. Will I have to wait until the annulment is finalized?

Brette's Answer: Unless you want to make the same mistake your soon-to-be ex made, yes, you have to wait for the annulment to be finalized before you can get married.

Can I get remarried before my Philippine annulment is finalized?

Antonette's Question: I am a Filipina and filed for an annulment from my abusive (ex) husband two years ago. My annulment is still on-going. I am expecting a child with my current partner who is a US citizen and we want to get married before the baby is born. Question is, can we get married without the final decision of my annulment in the Philippines?

Brette's Answer: If you are still legally married, you cannot get married again. You need to get the previous marriage annulled or dissolved in a divorce before you can legally remarry. 

Can I get engaged before my annulment is complete?

Polly's Question: I filed for an annulment based on fraud and it is in the process. I understand that I cannot get married right now, but can I get engaged even though my annulment is not completed yet?

Brette's Answer: There is no legal restriction on engagement. Good luck.

How soon can I remarry after an annulment?

Anne's Question: After I get my marriage annulled, when can I marry again, or do I need to wait a little while?

Brette's Answer: Legally, you can remarry as soon as you wish. Practically speaking, it might make sense to take some time and get your head together.

Do I need an annulment to remarry him so that our marriage is valid?

Sharon's Question: I was married in Las Vegas to my husband. Four years later, I found out he was still married to his first wife, but she filed for a divorce and it was finalized that same year. My husband and I are still together. Do I need an annulment to remarry him, or can I remarry him without an annulment?

Brette's Answer: You need an annulment. Good luck.

Can I get remarried to my husband if my marriage gets annulled?

Breana's Question: My parents want me to get my marriage annulled because I apparently was too young when I married and did not get their consent. If I get my marriage annulled, can we remarry later on in life?

Brette's Answer: To answer your question, you are free to remarry a person you got an annulment or divorce from. I'm not sure why you want to get an annulment if you just plan to marry each other again. That seems like a waste of time and money. Even if a marriage is eligible for an annulment, it is not invalid until a court declares it so. If you have no intention of ending your marriage, why would you go through this process?


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