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Annulment and divorce are not the same thing. Minnesota, like many other states, is a no-fault divorce state, meaning either party to a marriage may file for a divorce at any time for any reason. With a divorce, if your marriage is dissolved, the law still recognizes that the marriage took place. In some cases, you could be required to pay child support or spousal maintenance to your ex for a period of time.

With an annulment, not only is your marriage dissolved should the court approve of your petition, but the law will not recognize that your marriage ever took place. The court is essentially saying that there was no basis for your marriage and therefore it is null and void.

There are generally two sets of circumstances regarding when an annulment can occur: situations where your marriage will be declared void, and circumstances where the court may simply say your marriage is voidable. Here’s how to distinguish between the two:

A void marriage is one that is invalid by Minnesota law. This includes marriages between siblings and other close relatives and those where one of the partners was legally married to someone else at the time.

Voidable marriages are marriages that have a built-in deficiency that allows either party a limited time to challenge the marriage on the basis of that deficiency. Unless the challenge takes place, the marriage is allowed to continue. Deficiencies that could lead to voidable marriages include these situations:

  • One party was underage at the time of the marriage;
  • There was some type of marriage fraud involved that forced one party to marry the other;
  • The marriage could not be consummated, and one party was unaware of this fact at the time of the marriage;
  • One of the parties did not have the capacity to enter into the marriage due to drugs, alcohol, or mental condition.

If you believe you have cause for either a divorce or a marriage annulment, contact an experienced Minnesota family law attorney at (763) 783-5146.