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Nullity of Marriage Laws

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What is a Nullity of Marriage?

A nullity of marriage, also referred to as an annulment, is a finding that a marriage was never legally valid to begin with.

When Will a Nullity of Marriage Be Granted?

A few examples of the most common reasons a nullity may be granted include:

  • intoxication by one or both spouses
  • one or both spouses were still legally married to someone else (bigamy)
  • one of the spouses was under age
  • the marriage was done solely for immigration purposes.

These are only a few possibilities of why a nullity may be granted and nullities may be granted for any number of reasons if suspicious circumstances existed at the time of marriage.

What is the Difference Between a Nullity of Marriage and a Divorce?

In a divorce the court is being asked to dissolve a legally valid marriage. If a nullity of marriage is requested the court is being asked to find the marriage was never valid to begin with.

Therefore, if the marriage you are trying to end was consensual with no anomalies, you will probably need to seek a divorce.  If some sort of anomaly existed at the time of marriage, a nullity may be appropriate.

What are the Consequences of a Nullity of Marriage?

If a nullity is granted the court will deem the marriage invalid and it will be as if the marriage never occurred. A few consequences that result from the court nullifying a marriage are a visa may be revoked if it was obtained via marriage; it may also impact retirement benefits and inheritance.

Is There a Time Limit When to File for Nullity of Marriage?

Each state handles this separately. In some states you have only 60 days after marriage to assert nullity, while others you may have up to five years. The general rule though is the longer you remain married the harder it will be to nullify the marriage.

What Effect Does a Nullity of Marriage Have on the Children?

If a nullity is granted and the couple has a child there should not be any change in child support obligations, parental visitation rights, or parental status. Essentially whether it is a divorce or nullity, the parental relationship will remain the same.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 09-24-2012 03:09 PM PDT

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