There are two ways to legally end a marriage: divorce and annulment. While most people have a solid grasp on what divorce is, annulment remains somewhat of a mystery. At its most elemental level, annulment is the nullification or cancellation of a marriage for technical reasons. The benefit of an annulment is that an annulment invalidates a marriage. It makes a marriage seem as if it never happened in the first place. While many people might wish to void their own marriages, annulment is only available to marriages that meet the technical qualifications.
In the Oklahoma State Statutes there are three circumstances which make an annulment possible:
1. One or both parties were not eligible for marriage at the time
2. The marriage has not been consummated
3. One or both of the spouses were “tricked” into the marriage by some form of fraud
If one of the parties can prove in court one of the three reasons above, the marriage is eligible for annulment.
Understanding the First Criterion:
The first condition of the annulment criteria is the most inclusive and serves as the focus of this article. There are several reasons why an individual would not be eligible for marriage. A marriage is voidable if one of the individuals is:
1. Under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage
2. Mentally incompetent
3. Married to another person
4. Divorced from someone else for less than 6 months
All of these conditions are stipulations for a legal marriage in the State of Oklahoma; therefore, when one of these criteria are not met, the marriage is not valid under Oklahoma law.
How to Annul a Marriage:
In order to get an annulment in Oklahoma, a hearing must be held before a judge to determine if the proper criteria have been met. For minors and the mentally incompetent, parents or guardians can bring an annulment case before the court if consent was not given obtained for the marriage. Otherwise, the individual, being of proper age and mental capacity, must prove in court that the marriage was invalid on the basis of polygamy, violation of the six-month waiting period, unconsummated marriage, or fraud. Proper documentation, evidence, and witness testimony are all necessary to prove the eligibility of a marriage for annulment, often requiring the help of a lawyer.
Issues Facing Annulment:
In order to obtain an annulment, the same grounds for nullification which existed at the start of the marriage must persist till the time of nullification. If a minor seeking annulment turns 18, they are no longer eligible for annulment. He or she must seek a divorce. For individuals seeking an annulment based on a violation of the six-month waiting period, once the waiting period expires annulment is no longer a legal option.
Though annulment voids a marriage, in certain instances, child visitation, child support and alimony may be awarded following an annulment. Particularly, if a child was born of the voided marriage, the needs of the child may be accounted for by the court in spite of the annulled marriage.
Because of its narrow constraints, annulment is often a rare option for most individuals. Nevertheless, it is not beyond the range of probable possibilities. If you think you are eligible for annulment or want to discuss what other options might exist for you, contact the Brown Law Firm PC. It is our job to make sure that everyone gets what is offered them under our legal code. We understand that Good People Deserve Good Representation. Call or email us today to see what we can do for you.