An annulment is the voiding of a marriage. It is the determination that the marriage has always been invalid and the history of it will be considered never to have occurred. Unlike a divorce, two parties are not seeking an end to a marriage, but the complete erasure of its very existence.
In the state of New York, an annulment can only occur if the marriage was invalid at the beginning of the marriage. The grounds for an annulment must be proven to the court and New York recognizes the following grounds for annulment:
There are also religious annulments. A religious annulment is not the same as a civil one. A religious annulment is bound by canon law (law that is based on a set of ecclesiastical ordinances by Christian or Catholic church leadership) and is only performed after a civil annulment has taken place.
Some marriages are considered automatically void in the eyes of the law due to their nature, such as those that involve incest or bigamy. Marriages that can be automatically voided are different from an annulment where you will need to prove grounds in a hearing and possibly go through a trial.
You must be able to meet the legal grounds requirements and in the state of New York, you must have been a resident for the past 12 months in order to file for an annulment in New York.
Marriages between parents and children, siblings, ancestors or descendants whether full or half-blood, is not allowed in New York, neither are marriages between the siblings of ancestors and descendants. If your marriage has any of these elements your marriage is automatically considered null and void.¹
You will need to file an annulment with the court. Evidence for the grounds you are claiming will be required and witnesses that can testify to any of your verbal or physical evidence will also be required. For example, if you tell the judge that you were forced into the marriage, someone who was a witness to your inability to consent or that you were physically threatened to enter into the marriage is considered valid testimony and evidence.
There are many specific elements to an annulment that require the advice of legal counsel. Your lawyer, once they have all of the facts of your case, can file the annulment petition in court, gather witness lists and testimony for trial.
They can also help you arrange any support that might be needed if there are any children involved, which will be a separate case from your annulment. Any children that have resulted in the marriage are considered legitimate children in the eyes of the law. There are certain circumstances that remove the option of annulment and your annulment lawyer can advise you if anything in your case applies to that limitation.
Unless your marriage has been invalid from the beginning, and the court would not recognize it and so automatically void it as in the case of incest, for example, you should consider both the advantages and disadvantages equally.
Your decision can depend on your outlook on life, and your happiness. For example, one of the grounds for annulment is that a spouse is unable to have sexual intercourse. Do you truly love this person and are willing or able to overlook this part of marriage, and carry on in life as a married couple?
Some advantages of an annulment are that if you realize you have made a horrible mistake because you are only 16-years-old and you were not using good judgment, the law can wipe the slate clean, so to speak, and you will have never been married.
The cost of annulment is less than divorce and the length of time it takes to obtain an annulment can be less. In an annulment, there is no presumption of joint property between the parties and eliminates the division of property process which can be stressful and lengthy.
An annulment lawyer can ease the burden of the disadvantages by doing all the work of research, gathering witness testimony and the organization of your case. Regardless of your choice, it would be wise to seek legal counsel who can advise you how best to proceed with your case.
¹New York State, New York Consolidated Laws, Domestic Relations Law – DOM § 140. Action for judgment declaring nullity of void marriages or annulling voidable marriage Find Law (2017), http://codes.findlaw.com/ny/domestic-relations-law/dom-sect-140.html (last visited Jan 19, 2018).
Todd is a miracle worker who will work tirelessly for you and your family. He is one of the few attorneys i've met - who I earnestly trust to protect me, and who I am happy to refer to our friends and fellow family members. The Spodek Law Group is someone you want on your side, because they will treat you just like family. Todd and his team are available 24/7, and they always answered our calls. Even when we were being irrational, and crazy - they were calm and super helpful. Just call Todd. He gives you a free consultation and is very understanding.- Donna & Robert
85 Broad Street, 30th Floor
New York, NY 10005
35-37 36th St,
Astoria, NY 11106
195 Montague St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201