When most people decide their marriage needs to end, they get a divorce. Both parties are content going through the legal process, however contentious or amicable it may be, and then they go their separate ways once the dust settles. But what about those who don’t believe being legally “divorced” is enough for their unique situation? They want it so that their marriage never happened — that it never existed legally. This is what’s called an annulment.
Our attorneys at Christman Ramsey & Foster PC occasionally get asked about annulments when we’re out and about in the community or meeting with clients, and many people mistakenly think they are one and the same. But they are not.
In a divorce, a court recognizes there was a valid marriage, and now it is over.
With an approved annulment, there was no marriage. The court recognized the marriage wasn’t valid from the beginning.
Why would someone want an annulment?
In Texas, an annulment can only be obtained in very narrow, specific circumstances. When one or both spouses request an annulment, there are typically extenuating circumstances beyond the traditional grounds for divorce (adultery, abuse, irreconcilable differences, etc.).
- One spouse was underage, making the marriage invalid
- One spouse is legally married to someone else
- A spouse was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics
- The marriage happened under duress or because of force or fraud
- A spouse lacks the mental capacity to be married
Unlike divorce, there is no waiting period for an annulment. However, at least one of the reasons above must the established before an annulment request can be granted. This is true even if both parties want the marriage annulled. If your request is denied, you can speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss other options.
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