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The Basics of Annulment: Do I Qualify?

Most people are aware that if one wants to leave a marriage, divorce is the way to do it. But in the state of Florida, some marriage situations can be ended by annulment. A divorce ends a marriage that, up until divorce, was previously perfectly valid. But an annulment declares that what seemed to be a marriage actually wasn’t one at all. To be sure, an annulment doesn’t end a marriage; it states as a matter of law that the marriage never happened.

Do you qualify for an annulment? Qualifying for an annulment varies from state to state, but in Florida, these are the situations in which two partners’ union may be annulled.

You May Be Able to Annul Your Marriage If…

  • One or both of the spouses are already legally married to someone else (Florida law refers to this as bigamy), the spouses are closely related (even by marriage, Florida considers this to be incestuous), or one or both spouses are too young to consent themselves and did not receive consent from their respective parents (or are too young to marry even with parental consent). Florida considers each of these marriages to be void (legally invalid and nonexistent) even without an annulment, but if you are involved in one, it is wise to acquire an annulment anyway, to head off future legal tangles.
  • One of the spouses was tricked, by fraud or by lies, to enter into the marriage. Be warned, however: only a lie directly relating to the marriage will be grounds for annulment. A spouse lying regarding having an undesirable health history, for example, would not qualify, even if the misrepresentation was malicious and made to coerce the other spouse into marriage.
  • One or both of the spouses were unable to give consent even though they were both of legal age to marry. For instance, a marriage that occurs when one spouse is intoxicated, while one spouse was undergoing a severe but temporary mental health issue unknown to the other party, while one party was under duress or was forced to marry, or while both parties entered into the marriage understanding it to be a joke or ruse would all fall under this qualification for annulment. It is worth noting that attempting to explain to a judge that you entered into a marriage contract as a joke, while grounds for annulment in Florida, is not likely to be well-received by the court.
  • A spouse in the marriage is impotent, and was so at the time of the marriage, but the other spouse did not know at that time. According to most interpretations of annulment law, impotence as a qualifying ground for annulment is only valid for male impotence; female sterility is generally not grounds for annulment. Clearly different from the other annulment scenarios allowed by law, this guideline dates back to church-governed ecclesiastical law provisions.

If you are going through an annulment process or believe you may qualify for one, your first step should be to contact an experienced family attorney. Call Schwartz | White in Boca Raton at 561-391-9943 today for professional assistance with your case.

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