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NYC Annulment Lawyers

Like a conventional divorce, an annulment effectively concludes a marriage. However, annulments are legal proceedings that go a step or two further by declaring the marriage void or invalid via a court order. After an annulment, it is as if the marriage never occurred. Some spouses seek an annulment to avoid the perceived stigma of divorce, but most are due to fraud and other reasons. This guide refers only to civil annulments, not religious ones, which are granted by the clergy and have no effect on legal marital status.

What Constitutes Grounds for an Annulment in NYC?

In New York City, the courts recognize five different grounds for annulment. Unlike divorces, which may be based on irreconcilable differences, to get an annulment, one of the below grounds must be proven. These include:

  • Either or both spouses being under the age of 18 at the time the marriage occurred
  • Either or both spouses’ inability to consent to the marriage due to a mental impairment
  • Either spouse’s inability to consummate the marriage with sexual intercourse
  • A spouse’s incurable mental illness of five years or more
  • Marriage consent obtained through fraud, coercion, or duress

Our legal team can help spouses find and prove these grounds for annulment; call today for details.

What Happens if an Underage Spouse Attains the Age of Majority?

While either spouse being underage at the beginning of the marriage is a reason for annulment, if the couple continues to live together after both have reached the age of 18, such claims are waived.

What Will Happen if a Mentally Impaired Spouse Has a Lucid Interval?

Marriages may be annulled on the grounds of incurable mental deficiency. However, if the spouse with the illness goes through a period of non-impairment and the couple continues to freely cohabitate, the marriage is considered to be ratified and the grounds of mental deficiency are waived even if the illness returns in the future.

May Fraud be Waived as Grounds For an Annulment?

Although fraud is a legitimate reason for an annulment, it may be waived if the spouses continue to cohabitate after the fraud is discovered. Specifically, in cases where fraud would be sufficient grounds for annulment, if the wronged spouse uncovers the fraud and does not depart immediately, the grounds may be waived and the marriage is ratified. Fraud can also be waived via acquiescence, such as in cases where a spouse reneges on a promise to bear children and the wronged spouse is aware of the offending spouse’s contraceptive use.

Is Duress Waivable?

Yes, it is. New York’s laws do not allow marriages to be annulled on the grounds of duress or force if, before the marriage occurred, the spouses lived together and held themselves to be husband and wife.

How Can a Spouse Get an Annulment in New York City?

Annulments in NYC require a trial and a hearing before a family court judge. Unlike divorces, which may be granted on sworn or written testimony with no trial, annulments require at least one person to prove grounds in court. This requires the filing of paperwork and the submission of supporting evidence including documentation and witness testimony. For additional information on the procedures required to gain an annulment and what should be expected at the court hearing, please contact a New York City family lawyer for help.

The Effects of Annulments on Child Support and Custody

In the state of New York, although an annulment results in the voiding of a marriage, it has no effect on the legitimacy of children born within. Simply put, a child born while his or her parents are married in a religious or state ceremony is legitimate even if the marriage is later voided by a judge. Furthermore, an annulment has no effect on child support or custody; rather, it establishes the presumption of a child’s paternity.

Marriages are usually started with the best of intentions, but when those intentions waver soon after, an annulment may be a viable option. For more information on New York City’s laws on annulment, contact a local family lawyer as soon as possible.

In order to be accepted, a marriage annulment application must be based on valid reasons. For example, no longer wanting to live with a spouse one month after the marriage is not a valid reason. A person requesting an annulment of a marriage must also provide evidence justifying the cancellation. Therefore, you may wonder, “In which cases can a marriage annulment be requested?” and “What are the consequences of a marriage annulment?”

Remember, an application for a marriage annulment is more limited than an application for a petition for divorce. Here are a marriage annulment’s main effects: any donations between spouses are returned; the annulment being retroactive, the spouses are deemed to have never been married and they are considered to have lived in concubinage; and a spouse who has acquired US nationality through marriage loses the benefit. Remember, a representation by a lawyer is obligatory, as in the matter of divorce.
The following rules apply to civil marriages. As a reminder, polygamy is prohibited in the US. Civil law provides that one cannot contract a second marriage before the dissolution of the first. Therefore, you can only be married to one person at a time. Also, a more radical consequence in the case of an annulment of a marriage is that it results in the annulment of the marriage retroactively and legally the marriage never existed.

The religious annulment of a religious marriage, on the other hand, follows rules specific to each religion. In the following cases: a fraudulent marriage, marriage of a minor or marriage under threat, only one of the spouses can request the annulment of the marriage. In these particular cases, the public prosecutor may also request the annulment of the marriage, particularly if it involves physical or moral violence.

A marriage annulment is a procedure within the jurisdiction of the courts, which remains relatively rare and for which the public prosecutor has an opinion to issue. A marriage annulment will usually require serious failings aimed directly at the validity of the marriage. For example, a marriage annulment may be provided for a marriage where the spouses are related to each other.
For another example, a marriage annulment may also be provided for a marriage for migratory purpose or a marriage for acquiring nationality that is based on a sham marriage. The marriage which has been declared null produces, nevertheless, its effects with regard to the spouses, when it was contracted in good faith. As the annulment results in the retroactive cancellation of the marriage, a spouse cannot usually obtain any financial compensation.

The effects produced by the marriage, therefore, disappear from the person of the spouses and their property. Donations and other matrimonial benefits are also returned between the spouses. It’s as if the marriage never existed.

The conditions that provide for the validity of a marriage depend closely on the conditions under which the marriage took place. For example, a marriage should be publicly celebrated before a competent civil officer of a municipality where one of the spouses has a domicile or a residence at the date of the marriage. Also, the court competent to annul a marriage is the court of first instance of the place of residence of the spouses.

Therefore, the incompetence of the civil officer may provide a case for an annulment of a marriage. The annulment request can usually only come from one or the other of the spouses, or both spouses jointly. On the other hand, a public prosecutor can also request the annulment of a marriage for certain serious cases (with a forced marriage for example).

Annulment FAQ

Q – What Type of Annulment can an Attorney assist you with
A – A lawyer can assist you in obtaining an annulment for a marriage at the civil level. A New York lawyer can assist you in obtaining an annulment of the marriage at the civil level. An Annulment results in the court vacating the marriage so legally the marriage never existed. The term annulment also has religious meaning. The annulment process for religious purposes is something that must be done within the framework of the religious institution.

Q – What are the Grounds for obtaining an Annulment under New York Law
A – Unlike a traditional divorce, an Annulment can only be granted under current New York law when one of seven circumstances can be proven to the court. The five circumstances are:
1. One or both of the spouses were under the age of 18 at the time of marriage
2. Mental Incapacity at the time of the marriage
3. The inability to have sexual intercourse
4. Mental illness lasting five years or more that is not temporary in nature
5. Fraud, coercion or duress used to induce marriage .
6. Bigamy is grounds for an Annulment
7. The marriage is incestuous. Like number six legally this marriage is automatically null and void.

Note: Consult with a licensed New York Lawyer to learn more as each of these circumstances involve complex legal issues.
Q – Does continuous Cohabitation impact my legal rights
A – Yes, in the circumstance of a spouse getting married under the age of 18.Cohabitation after reaching the age of 18 may result in this ground for an annulment being waived. Additionally, mental illness is a complicated issue. Many who suffer from mental illness have periods of full mental capacity. Those living with a spouse during times of full mental capacity will be unable to seek an annulment. Fraud is another grounds for annulment that may be waived if continuous cohabitation takes place. A common example is the promise to have children if marriage takes place. A spouse who refuses to have children after marriage in this circumstance would be legally committing fraud. However, if his/her spouse knows of the refusal and continues to cohabitate the ability to seek an annulment may be waived.

Q – What is the Court process to get an Annulment
A – Unlike a divorce an Annulment requires that a hearing and a trial take place. The person seeking the annulment has the burden of calling witnesses to prove that one of the five circumstances listed above is present. Remember that only the innocent party can file for an Annulment. The Annulment can be contested by the other spouse and in that event witnesses called will be cross examined.

Q – What is the impact on Child Custody and Support
A – There is no impact on Child Support or Custody for children by an Annulment.

Q – Does filing for Annulment impact the ability to file for divorce
A – You can still file for divorce if you file for an annulment and lose or if you contest the annulment and win.

Q – How long to I have to live in New York before I can file for an Annulment
A – You must have established residency in New York for at least one year prior to filing for an Annulment.

Q – Do I really need an Attorney for an Annulment
A – A Null and Void marriage (circumstances) 6 and 7 listed above can be obtained by showing the proper documents. Although an attorney is not required it is strongly suggested that an attorney be consulted due to the importance of the legal issues involved. Circumstances 1-5 above do require a skilled attorney with the appropriate family law background. Representing yourself in any serious legal matter is simply unwise.

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