An annulment and a divorce are similar in that they both relate to the parties’ marital status. However, an annulment is very different from a divorce in that an annulment is a decree that essentially acts as if the marriage was void and never occurred. An annulment involves problems that were present at the time of the marriage, rather than problems that occur after the parties are married. If the marriage is illegally formed, the parties will retain their legal rights and responsibilities, as they existed before the marriage. Generally, people have misconceptions about how to obtain an annulment. The length of the parties’ marriage, or simple regret, is not the sole determining factor in order to obtain an annulment. In Alabama, a marriage is presumed to be valid, but there are statutory grounds for obtaining an annulment. If you do not fall within one of the statutory grounds for annulment, divorce is your only option.
The statutory grounds for an annulment are bigamy, incestuous marriage, pre-marital concealment of pregnancy by another man, fraudulent intent to not cohabitate, underage marriage, fraudulent concealment of an incurable and contagious sexually transmitted disease, underage marriage, duress, or impotency.
An incestuous marriage occurs where a spouse discovers that the other spouse falls within a statutory degree of being a “family member” and the marriage must be annulled as it is against public policy
Bigamy occurs where one of the parties is still married to another person at the time of the marriage. Bigamy renders a marriage void and may be annulled.
Fraudulent concealment of a pregnancy by another man occurs where a husband discovers that his wife was pregnant with his child at the time of the marriage, but finds out that the child is not his. The marriage may be annulled.
Fraudulent intent to not cohabitate or consummate the marriage occurs where one spouse refuses to consummate the marriage or refuses to cohabitate with the other spouse, the marriage may be annulled if the other spouse believed, at the time of the marriage, that they would cohabitate and consummate the marriage.
Fraudulent concealment of an incurable and contagious sexually transmitted disease occurs where a spouse learns that the other spouse was afflicted with an incurable and contagious sexually transmitted disease, the marriage may be annulled if the infected spouse concealed their disease prior to the marriage.
If one of the parties is underage at the time of the marriage, and did not have consent or his or her parent’s consent, the marriage may be annulled as an underage marriage. The annulment must brought before the underage spouse reaches the age of majority.
A marriage may be annulled if the marriage was formulated where a spouse was under duress. If a spouse agrees to marry due to a threat of bodily harm being inflicted upon him or her by the other spouse, the marriage may be annulled due to the fact that the only reason the marriage occurred was due to duress.
Impotency occurs where the wife discovers, after the marriage and after consultation with medical professionals, that the husband is unable to consummate the marriage due to a pathological psychological condition.
If you believe you fall within one of the statutory grounds for an annulment, call The Whitaker Law Firm today for a free in-person consultation. The Whitaker Law Firm will guide you through the annulment process and will provide you with experienced legal advice regarding the options available to you.
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