Annulment is a legal process which allows a marriage to be extinguished and treated as if it never existed. This is different from divorce, which merely ends the marriage but still leaves a record of its existence. Annulment occurs only if the marriage was never legally valid to begin with.
Common grounds for annulment include under-aged marriage, failure to consummate the marriage, bigamy, incest, or conditions of fraud or coercion. The duration of the marriage is typically not a factor in annulment proceedings, though it may be more difficult to obtain as time goes on.
Can I File for Annulment in the County where I Live?
Generally, it is considered proper to file for annulment in the county where you live. In most cases you may initiate annulment proceedings through the local court of your jurisdiction.
However, you should be aware that some states and counties have a “length of residency requirement” that you must fulfill before filing. This requirement typically states that you must live in the county or state where you will be filing for a specified amount of time (sometimes weeks or months).
Therefore, if you have recently moved to your county, be sure that you have satisfied any residency requirements before filing. Also, some annulments are only allowed within a certain number of weeks or months after the date of marriage. Thus, you may wish to file for an annulment before moving if the change of residency will affect any deadlines or time requirements.
Can I File for Annulment in the County where I was Married?
In addition to filing for annulment in your county of residence, it is usually possible to file in the county where the marriage occurred. This is common in states such as Nevada, where many couples visit in order to have a marriage performed quickly.
So if filing in the county of residence will raise issues, be sure to consult with a clerk or attorney in the county where your marriage was performed. Again, remember that time limits or restrictions may apply when filing in the county of marriage.
Finally, regardless of where you will be filing, remember that annulment can only be obtained in situations where the marriage is legally void. If the marriage was valid by law, you will have to obtain a divorce rather than an annulment in order to terminate the legal relationship.
Do I Need an Attorney for an Annulment of Marriage?
Annulment laws may vary widely by state. You may wish to contact a family law attorney for advice if you have questions regarding the laws of your county of residence or of the county where you will be filing for annulment. Also, if you have moved recently or will be moving soon, your lawyer will be able to advise you on how to integrate the proper filing procedures with your change of residency.