When it comes to relationships, there is the joy of marriage and the pain of divorce.

But that is not all there is, at least in legal circles – there is the “clean slate” thinking of annulment. Like, what if we realize there was a reason that we got married that was actually a mistake, having nothing to do with chemistry?

What if you found out something after the fact that would have prevented you from marrying had you known about it in advance?

The word “divorce” has a negative connotation in social circles, so while divorce might be the more well-known way to end a marriage, sometimes it may adversely impact a person’s ability to have healthy relationships in the future, especially if the person was wronged in a marriage.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a process by which a marriage or other legal contract is annulled, or deemed null and void – as if it never happened. It is a legal way to wipe the slate clean, in effect, and restore both parties to their original legal status as if they never entered into a legal (or marital) contract.

Reasons to Seek an Annulment

In many states, either party can file for divorce for any reason (or no reason at all) in a “no fault’ proceeding, but an annulment of marriage requires certain legal justifications – not because you realize you don’t like your partner.

Essentially, the main reasons to justify an annulment are similar to voiding a legal contract – there are circumstances that determine that the contract was entered into in a non-voluntary way. Some of these legal reasons for an annulment are:

  • Fraud – This is beyond just lying; this is deceit with the intent to mislead, such as lying about age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or taking on a persona in courtship and being very different once married. Not revealing certain facts (like having an STD prior to marriage, for example) may also be grounds for fraud.
  • Mental deficiency – If one person was found to be not of a “sound mind” at the time of marriage – like if the person has mental illness or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impacted judgment.
  • Coercion – One of the parties felt compelled or forced into marriage under threat of violence – and the threats actually happened. (A literal “shotgun wedding” may fall in here.)
  • Impotence – The idea of marriage is to reproduce, and a party may seek an annulment if it is found that one or more of the parties is not able to consummate the marriage for some reason.

Clean the Slate

Sometimes we may want a mulligan. With an annulment, it is one way to clean up a mistake and go back in time as if the marriage never happened. If you feel like you were manipulated or deceived into marriage, or if you are being accused of fraudulent action or behavior, seek the services of a quality family-law attorney to protect your right to start over.