If you are looking to have your marriage legally invalidated, seeking an annulment is the appropriate option. In addition to legally ending a marriage as a divorce does, an annulment means that a court voids your marriage, which allows you to consider that you have never been married afterward.
In New York, the grounds on which you can request an annulment are very specific and an experienced lawyer can help you present appropriate proofs to support your petition. Like in a divorce, your spouse may contest your annulment petition.
A court can only rule on a civil marriage annulment. If you need a religious annulment, you need to speak with the adequate religious authority of your faith. Similarly, a religious annulment has no impact on your civil marital status.
What Is a Void Marriage?
Certain conditions make a marriage void no matter whether you are interested in seeking an annulment. You may nevertheless file for an annulment lawsuit if you need specific paperwork for administrative purposes.
In New York, a marriage is void in the case of:
- Incest when the marriage happened between parents, children, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, brothers, or sisters
- Bigamy when one of the spouses is still legally married to another living individual
- Underage when a spouse was younger than 14 years when the marriage was officiated
Grounds for Annulment in New York
If you are looking to get an annulment in New York, you have five grounds available:
- Too young to consent: If are under the age of 18, you, your parent, or your guardian can petition for an annulment, even if you previously received written consent from either both parents if you were under 18 when married or approval by order of a court if under 16.
- Lack of mental capacity to give consent: You or your spouse was mentally ill or incapacitated at the time of the marriage and the other one did not know about the condition.
- Incurable mental illness: One spouse was legally mentally ill for at least five years. The court may seek alimony to support the mentally ill spouse.
- Consent obtained through force, duress, or fraud: Common types of fraudulent marriages include false claims of pregnancy, getting married for immigration purposes, threats, or abuse.
- Physical incapacity: This includes the inability to consummate the marriage, and the other spouse must have been unaware of the physical issues before entering the legal union.
If you are ineligible for a marriage annulment, you may consider divorce or a legal separation depending on your specific needs.
What Does the Marriage Annulment Process Involve?
Petitioning for an annulment is similar to the divorce process. In New York, a spouse, the plaintiff, files a Summons and Verified Complaint with the County Clerk to let the court know that you seek a marriage annulment. The County Clerk also provides you with an index number so you can deliver the papers to your spouse, the defendant.
Your spouse can either sign an Affidavit to agree with the annulment or they can file an answer to contest. In the case of a contested annulment, the process takes longer, involves more legal expenses, and requires you to appear in court with a trial and hearing before a judge. During this, the plaintiff needs to submit evidence, including documents and witnesses, to support the annulment request.
Minor Children and Property Division After an Annulment
When a judge annuls a marriage, they declare it null and void. While your marriage records remain, both spouses are free to consider that they have never been married. However, any children that resulted from this marriage remain legitimate.
In certain cases, the court may require the division of marital assets between you and your former spouse. They may also establish alimony as in divorce situations. Preparing your case with an experienced attorney helps you have a clear picture of what the annulment process may involve.
Are you looking for a trusted family law attorney in Brooklyn? Contact Arnel Law Firm today at (718) 550-3024 to schedule an appointment.