The process of ending longer-term marriages generally involves a complex divorce process, combined with significant emotional upheaval. Deciding every detail behind turning one household into two is necessarily difficult. It requires extensive thought and negotiation between two people who may not have the cooperative spirit to reach agreement on virtually any issues.
The fact is that ending even short-term marriages can also involve the divorce process. However, in some cases, it is possible to essentially revert back to the days before some couples took their marriage vows. This process is known as annulment and it only applies in very specific cases.
The Annulment Process Applies to Void Marriages
Divorce essentially ends matrimonial relationships that have met the basic qualifications for marriages. Annulment, on the other hand, essentially determines that a marriage never met the qualifications, which means it was void by meeting one of the following criteria:
- Lack of capacity to consent to the marriage, which can include mental incapacity or infirmity, along with consenting while under the influence of incapacitating substances or due to force or fraud
- Physical incapacity to consummate the marriage, provided that both parties were not aware of the incapacity at the time of the marriage
- Under-aged parties, based on the laws used to determine the age of individuals who are allowed to enter into contracts, which is 18 years old
While any of these conditions seems on the surface to be easy to meet, they do not stand alone. For example, they may not apply if both parties had knowledge of the condition at the time they entered into marriage.
Additionally, if a qualifying condition no longer exists at the time a couple seeks annulment, which would be the case with an under-aged couple that lived together as a married couple and reached the age of majority before seeking annulment.
It is also important to understand that a number of parties outside of the marriage can pursue annulment. Perhaps the most common example of outside parties seeking annulment would be the parents of under-aged children or children who have mental infirmities.
Anyone Seeking Annulment Must Prove Grounds to a Judge
The annulment process may be simpler than the divorce process, but it is far from just an administrative procedure. Anyone who files for annulment must show grounds that a marriage remains void as of the time of the filing and that no involved party knew about the circumstances at the time the couple married. This typically involves a courtroom process in front of a judge.
So, while the overall annulment process can be relatively straightforward, determining whether or not a marriage is legally void can involve complex issues that require judicial decisions. By seeking experienced legal advice and support, couples can learn their rights to help ensure that they receive the desired outcome. Call our Minnesota divorce lawyers at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.