Annulment Requirements for Trouble in Paradise
If the Elvis impersonator in Vegas didn't follow the correct procedures during your in-and-out wedding (or thereabouts), you might be wondering if a divorce is even necessary. Investigating annulment requirements thoroughly will help you when a marriage is null and void – for example, if the marriage was entered into under duress or with false pretenses.
To annul your marriage ASAP, DoNotPay has created a streamlined annulment service. We've also compiled this general information to give you a sense of how annulments work, what makes them possible, and what the requirements are in general.
What Is an Annulment?
Annulments and divorces are distinct in that a divorce applies to actual marriages that the state has formally recognized. Annulments apply when the marriage essentially was not even lawfully valid from the beginning.
Depending on the jurisdiction that applies, an annulment has certain voiding conditions for rendering it null and void. These voiding conditions could have already taken place, in which case the marriage was legally void "ab initio" (or "from the beginning"). Otherwise, it could be voidable if one asserts and proves as much – albeit in the correct way. In either case, you'll need to show that this is the case to have your marriage declared legally void.
It's important to understand why people (or "legal persons") even get into such sticky red tape with government entities at all when it comes to their love life, and it all has to do with wanton entry into contractual arrangements. People tend to overlook the full ramifications of what they're getting into when they sign over their property interests and autonomy to government actors.
Most people weren't taught that this just isn't necessary and that there are alternative ways of doing things. This is succinctly spelled out by searching for the word "married" in this document – but the takeaway is this: don't give your signature away so easily. This is how people wind up needing permission from governmental-corporate hybrids to make basic decisions about their family life – including children – in ways that people in times past would have considered unheard of.
It happens when families render their private matters public and submit to institutional oversight. Any complaint will fall on deaf ears because they have you and your spouse's signatures to prove that you both voluntarily consented to make them an ephemeral third wheel to your private affairs.
In this light, it's important to look soberly at the private-interested legal industry's codes, rules, and regulations for when a marriage can be declared legally void. If you want to learn the annulment requirements yourself, it's going to be necessary to learn the legal "fine print" as it applies to you, such as:
- Case law
- Annotated case law
- UCC procedures (for handling property claims)
At least you can narrow your research down to marriage-related codes, rules, regs, statutes, etc. … but, you'll need to do so for both national and local jurisdictions.
For the overwhelming majority of people, this will be within the political boundaries of federal territories most usefully thought of as a "state franchise." This is where the legislature has plenary powers to enforce federal jurisdiction – however "local" it may be in form.
Nevertheless, the majority of people have breathed life into colorable laws by lending their signature to adhesion contracts (see Art. 1, Sec. 10, Cl. 1 of the Constitution) that almost invariably invoke the commerce clause (Art. 1, Sec. 8, Cl. 3) – astonishingly, even with regards to family matters – and congress has little (they'd like to think no) restriction in regulating interstate commerce; but we can finish this little robot lawyer episode of SchoolHouse Rock another time, though. To help you make sense of the annulment requirements, let's look at the main issues you'll need to contend with to show that an annulment should be granted.
Grounds for Getting an Annulment
There are many conditions that make getting a marriage annulled possible. Some are obvious and others not so much. For starters, annulment requirements generally include:
- Being underaged at the time
- Having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or other altered states of consciousness)
- Mental incapacitation
- Unconscionability of contract
- Withholding of critical information by one or the other spouse
- Having a still-current marriage that has yet to be formally, legally ended
- Entry into a purely "green card" marriage
- Proof of fraud (though a word of caution: fraud is very hard to prove)
This is just a start, but these are some of the common grounds for a marriage annulment. If any of the above apply to you, you can almost definitely get an annulment.
Otherwise, you'll have to do more homework and check your local law and legal library – or ask a compromised attorney who will promise you the moon (and endless billable hours). Whichever grounds for an annulment you think will apply to your unique situation needs to be cross-referenced with the jurisdiction in which you signed over the commercial interests in your marriage and any property that may be involved (biological or otherwise).
If this is upsetting, we don't blame you–and if our metal heart could feel, we'd feel it with you. An annulment can wipe the slate clean and give you a better foundation from which to be more rightly selective about who (or what) you give your precious signature to. Have you ever wondered why so many institutions seem to want it so badly... but on the other hand, they expect you to give it away like it's cheap? If it's so cheap, then why do they want it so much? Like time and attention, it's only as valuable as you make it – and it's far more valuable than most people know.
Once it's given away, though, you'll have to abide by statutes of limitations that may apply and can vary according to
- The seriousness of the grounds for annulment (e.g., a violent situation has a longer limit than a drunken Vegas mistake)
- The jurisdiction in which the marriage license was sought
Statutes of limitation on annulment can vary from a few months to a few years. You'll simply need to get acquainted with the legal codes and statutes of the federal territory (or otherwise – but it's almost always a federal territory) in which you applied for the marriage. There is virtually no such limit for certain annulment requirements, such as underaged marriages.
As you research, be on the lookout for marriages that are never valid (aka "void ab initio"), such as those entered into during threat of harm, assuming it can be proven. If tangible evidence is lacking, you can enter the testimony of two competent fact witnesses under penalty of perjury into the court record.
If it looks like not much of Washington D.C.'s official codes and rules will apply to your unique situation (or if labyrinthine exceptions and loopholes seem to leave you out), it might not be unheard of to void the contract with the state on the grounds that it was an unconscionable contract from the get-go (especially if children are involved).
UNCONSCIONABLE BARGAIN, contracts. A contract which no man in his senses, not under delusion, would make, on the one hand, and which no fair and honest man would accept, on the other. 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3848. -Bouvier's 6th edition (1856)
Since the lower courts practically get all their delegation of authority from contracts (remember Art. 1, Sec. 8, Cl. 1?), they are not likely to give you an easy time with this. If you nevertheless would like to learn more about unconscionable contracts, you might do well to begin by reading the court opinion in Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co., 350 F.2d 445 (D.C. Cir. 1965). This is a case that made unconscionability of contract one of its main issues and has become a staple of contract law courses for first-year law students.
No matter which course you choose, if you think a court case could be the result, find out the "essential elements" that must be proven if you are alleging a crime. As you'll see later on, we can streamline the lion's share of this heart-aching and mind-stretching work with DoNotPay's marriage annulment service.
How to Get a Marriage Annulled
If you and your sort-of-spouse are in agreement about the matter, it can really help you. For unilateral attempts to annul, just go a little further every step of the way to show the courts that you have really done your homework and deserve the order you seek.
The first step is to file a complaint (sometimes called a "petition") of annulment in the relevant state or county court. If you're not on the same page as your not-so-better half, you'll need to notify them of your intention and even summons them if they don't make a good-faith effort to come to court (or sometimes just a magistrate in a quasi-private setting).
Ultimately, this will require some court or administrative appearance, making the possibility of having to enter into adhesion contracts with state actors rear its head again – in which case, make better efforts going forward to protect your signature from excess liability.
Of course, this will involve researching countless hours, filling out many forms, and making sure you send the right documents to the right places. Even then, a small mistake could tank the whole effort – and you might only get one shot.
There are also certain costs associated with an annulment. Depending on how far you need to go with it, typical legal industry costs could run you anywhere from $500 to $5000. Of course, if you hire an unscrupulous BAR member, they have all the incentive in the world to simply run the costs up – unless you also want to take the time to babysit them and learn their job yourself; in which case, what's the point?
Next Steps to Annul a Marriage if You Can’t Do It Yourself
Of course, this is all pretty harsh – especially when we aren't even necessarily talking about true crimes. It can seem like the paperwork games of the legal-administrative world are taking control of the most precious commodity there is, and that's your attention. DoNotPay got started because we don't think it should be like this! As the world's first robot lawyer, we have the tools necessary to streamline and largely automate these matters – and let you move on to greener pastures.
Annul Your Marriage More Quickly With the Help of DoNotPay
We value teaching people what our woefully inadequate schools didn't about our own public institutions–but what we really enjoy is getting busy reducing this kind of bureaucracy mess for our clients! If you've enjoyed learning about these matters as well as one can, but all in all, you just need to throw the ring into Mordor and be done with it, DoNotPay can relate.
For less than 1/10th of a single hour of an "esquire's" time (and without the disloyalty), get it done in one fell swoop with DoNotPay.
It only takes 3 steps:
- Search for Annulment on the DoNotPay website.
- Kick off the process to see if your marriage is eligible for an annulment.
- Answer some specific questions about your marriage and see if your state law allows for an annulment.
DoNotPay Also Works Across All States
To learn about the annulment requirements in the jurisdiction you contracted with, check out our annulment article for every state:
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
If more easily shaking off the ball and chain sounds too good to be true, look first at the myriad other legal-administrative issues we've been helping people with across the country (and in some parts of Canada):
- Virtual credit cards
- Obtain a divorce settlement agreement
- Obtain a divorce certificate
- Find missing money that's yours
- Streamline insurance claims
- Notarize any document
- Put a stop to stalking and harassment
- Simplify small claims court
Make the administrative bureaucratic world in general just a small spec in your rearview mirror–along with the heartbreak. Sign up with DoNotPay today.