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What is an annulment?

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An annulment is where the law deems a marriage to have never occurred, meaning that it is void or voidable. This differs from divorce in that divorce is the dissolution of a legal marriage whereas in an annulment situation, the marriage is deemed to have never existed in the first place. However, it is important to note that annulments are typically only granted by a court if certain circumstances exist.

The first ground for annulment is mental illness. If an individual is so mentally ill that he or she could not willingly consent, then the marriage may be deemed to never have existed at all. The reasoning behind this type of annulment is that marriage is consensual in nature, and when one individual is unable to knowingly consent, the legal binding of those two people is shattered. The second ground for annulment is temporary insanity. Again, if an individual is married during a time of temporary insanity, he or she may be deemed to have never had the capacity, legally speaking, to marry. Here, a marriage will not be annulled if it occurred during a time of lucidity, even if the person was temporarily insane before and afterward.

The third way a marriage can be annulled is if fraud has occurred. If one party lies about his or her religious beliefs and those beliefs formed a strong foundation for the marriage, then it may be annulled. The fourth situation under which an annulment may be granted is intoxication. If one spouse, or both, were so intoxicated as to not know the nature of marriage, then it may be annulled.

There are many other situations under which a marriage can be deemed void or voidable. Mock marriages, duress, and incest can all be grounds for annulment. While an annulment may seem like a straight-forward matter, there are other family law issues that should be considered before seeking an annulment. Therefore, it might be wise to speak with a Tucson family law attorney to assess a specific situation.

Source: FindLaw, "Annulments - Overview," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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