Is an annulment just a simpler form of divorce? Many people think so, but in reality, annulment in North Carolina is only an option in strict situations. Wondering if your marriage is eligible for annulment? We'll explain the grounds for annulment and how to file if it's the right procedure for you.
What Is an Annulment?
An annulment goes through the civil court and differs from divorce because it declares that your marriage never existed to begin with. Annulments are only available in limited situations and are not the same as religious annulments. Annulments granted by your church have no bearing on the legal status of your marriage.
Annulments are neither quicker or easier than a divorce. They're a complex procedure that require the services of a good lawyer to help you prove the grounds for the dissolution. Attorney Regina Taylor has years of experience helping individuals end bad marriages and move on to better lives.
What Are the Grounds for Annulment?
In North Carolina, there are two types of invalid marriages that can lead to annulment – void marriage and voidable marriage. The only real void marriage is when bigamy is involved. If your spouse was already legally married at the time they married you, the marriage is automatically void and annulment is not technically necessary. However, it's still a good idea to get a court order that annuls the relationship to help prove your marital status in the future.
There are several situations that constitute a voidable marriage. These include:
- Getting married under the false pretense that the wife was pregnant, then separating within 45 days with no child born within 10 months of the split.
- If either spouse didn't have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage contract.
- If either spouse was deemed physically impotent by a doctor at the time of the marriage.
- If the couple was related and closer than first cousins, such as siblings or an aunt marrying her nephew.
- If one of the spouses was younger than 16 at the time of the marriage unless a court order allowed for it due to a pregnancy.
Voidable marriages have the potential of becoming legal by the actions of you and your spouse. If you continue living together after the marriage ends and have a child together, your marriage becomes valid. In this case, you would have to file for a divorce, not an annulment.
How Do You Get an Annulment?
In order to get an annulment, you must file a case in the county where your spouse lives. You'll need to provide proof to the court that your marriage is void or voidable. Hiring a family law attorney like Regina Taylor can make this process easier.
What Are the Effects of an Annulment?
Once a marriage is annulled, legally the marriage never existed, meaning you can continue with your life as if you were never married. Any children you may have are still considered children of the marriage and you may seek court orders for visitation and child custody as well as child support. The court may also award post-separation support or attorneys' fees at their discretion. However, equitable distribution of assets and permanent alimony are not allowed.
Annulment is more than a simplified divorce. It's an intricate proceeding that can only dissolve your marriage in restricted situations. To find out whether your marriage is eligible for an annulment, call Attorney Regina Taylor at (704) 861-0700 to discuss your case. She can provide support during this difficult time and help you reach a beneficial solution.