Can’t I just get an annulment?

In 99 cases out of 100, you can’t get an annulment. Actually, maybe I’ve overstated the statistics. It’s probably safe to say that in almost every single case, you really can’t get an annulment. I know it’s tempting, especially if you haven’t been married very long, to erase the marriage and feel like it never actually happened. That’s easier to deal with psychologically than coming to terms with yourself as a divorcee and acknowledging that you made a mistake.

Still, you probably can’t get an annulment so, if you really want to end your marriage, you’ll have to get a divorce.

There are really only three types of marriages where an annulment is even a possibility:

1. Where there is a defect in the marriage itself. If the marriage was performed by someone who wasn’t authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in Virginia, you may qualify for an annulment, if one of you was already married at the time of the marriage, or if one of you was too young to legally consent to the marriage when it was entered into.

2. Where one party withheld critical information. If your husband fathered a child within the last 10 months or if either of you had a prior career in prostitution, for example, you might qualify for an annulment.

3. Where there is fraud.

Most people seem to think that you can get an annulment if you haven’t been married very long and quickly change your mind, but that’s not the case. There has to be something actually, factually wrong with the marriage in order to qualify. If you don’t meet any of these criteria, you can’t get an annulment.

Even if you do meet one or more of these criteria, you may not want to pursue an annulment. Since an annulment legally dissolves a marriage, it is as though it never happened in the eyes of the law, which means that there are really no legal mechanisms in place to determine division of property (nothing is marital property if you weren’t married) or spousal support. (If you have children in common, the court absolutely will be able to help you determine custody and visitation as well as child support, if necessary.) If your assets and liabilities are an issue, you might prefer to pursue a divorce, rather than an annulment.

For more information about annulments or what the best choice is for you, please call our office at (757) 425-5200.

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