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Do I Need a Divorce Attorney to Get an Annulment?


An annulment is a procedure very similar to a divorce in that it must be granted by a judge; however, the requirements under annulment law for obtaining an annulment are much more stringent, making an annulment attorney a requirement in most cases.  In fact, few annulments are sought or granted these days because of the difficult annulment laws in most states.  The results of an annulment are quite different from those of a divorce, however, making it even more important to seek the advice of an annulment attorney.  Once couples are successful in obtaining an annulment, under annulment law, their marriage is considered mull and void.  An annulment attorney or divorce attorney can help make it as if the marriage never happened. 

Reasons for Obtaining an Annulment
There are a few motives for obtaining an annulment.  The primary reason for obtaining an annulment is a desire to avoid the legal, property, and support requirements of a divorce.  For many, there is also a religious reason for obtaining an annulment.  In some churches, there is no right to remarry if you were once legally married.  A divorce would mean that there is still a valid marriage in the record books.  Under annulment law and in most churches, an annulment does not.  However, even the church may require a civil annulment before they grant a religious one.  You may want to enlist the aid of an annulment attorney to guide through the process of obtaining an annulment under annulment law.

Annulment Law
The element that makes an annulment different from a divorce is the fact that in annulment law, once the petition is granted, it is as if the marriage never happened.  That voids not only the marriage, but also any joint activities that occurred during the marriage other than the birth of a child.  As a result, obtaining an annulment, especially without the aid of an annulment attorney, is difficult, since most judges are reluctant to grant them.  In addition, obtaining an annulment is generally impossible if it the process is not begun shortly after the marriage.  The time limits vary by state and by the motives for the annulment, but annulment law makes it clear that a lasting marriage generally does not meet the requirements for obtaining an annulment.   

The process for obtaining an annulment is similar to a divorce, but much more difficult.  First, the parties must enlist the aid of an annulment attorney.  An divorce attorney can prepare the legal paperwork, submit the petition to the court to hear a motion for annulment, and represent you before the judge in your annulment hearing.  This is not an easy task because of the amount of proof required under annulment law to establish the need for obtaining an annulment.  

The other requirements for an obtaining an annulment are quite precise, and can include:

  • Insanity, mental illness, or retardation – People with such conditions are not able to give legal consent to a marriage; therefore, their marriage commitment is invalid under annulment law.  However, your annulment attorney must prove one of those conditions before an annulment can be granted.  As a result, a spouse should consult an annulment attorney in order to find and present that evidence effectively.
  • Temporary insanity – If a spouse can be proven to have temporarily lost the ability to give competent legal consent at the time of his vows, annulment law states that his marriage can be annulled.  This is also difficult to prove without the aid of an annulment attorney.
  • Duress – Under annulment law, obtaining an annulment is possible if your annulment attorney can prove that your marriage vows were made when you were under extreme duress.
  • Intoxication – Again, a marriage commitment is void if it is made while either spouse was unable to understand and give legal consent at the time of the marriage due to drugs or alcohol.  To prove past drug use or intoxication requires access to law enforcement records that often only an annulment attorney can obtain.
  • Inability to consummate the marriage – If your annulment attorney can prove that your spouse was permanently and irreparably impotent at the time of the marriage, and that you were not aware of that fact, annulment law consider that grounds for obtaining an annulment.
  • Bigamy or incest – Both of those actions are illegal in this country, and anyone who unknowingly marries someone who is already married or who is a close relative can have the marriage annulled under annulment law.
  • Lack of parental consent – A spouse under the age of 21 is required to have parental consent.  If your annulment attorney can prove that your minor child was married without your consent, you have grounds for obtaining an annulment.
  • Fraud – If your annulment attorney can prove that your spouse lied or misrepresented the truth in order to induce you to marry, you may proceed in obtaining an annulment.

In most cases, those actions are difficult to prove; therefore, it is often vital to consult an annulment attorney to insure you are meeting the requirements for obtaining an annulment under annulment law. 

Consequences of Obtaining an Annulment
Under annulment law, an annulment can only be granted by a judge.  However, once that annulment is granted, both parties lose all the benefits of the marriage that was voided.  However, they also avoid some of the consequences, which they would face if they were to divorce.  Annulment law discontinues all property rights for which you do not have legal ownership.  Since the time frame for obtaining an annulment is usually short, most legal entanglements have not formed, so an annulment attorney should not have to deal with many property issues. 

In addition, since the marriage is considered to have never existed, annulment law does not generally require alimony or child support requirements.  However, in the rare cases when a child is produced in an annulled marriage, his legitimacy is not voided under annulment law. Guardianshipof the child can only be granted under annulment law when your annulment attorney can produce evidence that the parent or parents sincerely believed the marriage was valid at the time of conception, and the child was born before obtaining an annulment or within 10 months of obtaining an annulment decree.  An annulment attorney should help you reach a settlement on child custody, child support, and guardianship under annulment law

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