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Can I Contest an Annulment?27 Dec 2016

An annulment is very different from a divorce as it legally renders a marriage as having never occurred rather than dissolving the marriage. There are many reasons you may have for wanting to contest an annulment, including your faith, right to obtain spousal support, claim on any property, or a personal objection to the concept of wiping away a marriage as if it never happened. If your spouse has filed for annulment, you always have the right to contest it.

What Are the Grounds for Annulment?
When someone files for their marriage to be annulled, they are asking the court to essentially wipe everything clean as if the marriage never happened. After an annulment, the individual can legally claim they have never been married. An annulment will wipe away either party’s right to distribution of marital property, alimony, and other benefits of marriage. There are very limited grounds under which someone can be granted an annulment. The following are most common:

  • Fraud, which may be due to concealing criminal history, a sexually transmitted disease, impotence, or other form of fraud.
  • Duress, threat, or force.
  • Bigamy, which means one party was still legally married to someone else when the marriage happened.
  • Mental incapacity. This may be due to mental disability or intoxication.
  • Inability to have sexual intercourse and consummate the marriage.

There are also less common grounds for an annulment, such as one or both parties not being old enough to enter into a marriage or a close blood relationship.

The person who petitions the state for an annulment must offer facts that support one of these grounds for annulment.

How to Contest an Annulment
Filing an answer with the court to the other spouse’s petition means the annulment proceeding is contested. This means that you are challenging the representations made by the other spouse and disagreeing that there are grounds for an annulment. You can’t simply challenge the annulment by stating you wish to remain married; instead, you are challenging what the other spouse is representing. As an example, if the other spouse has filed for annulment on the grounds of duress, you must argue they were under no duress to get married.

In most states, simply filing this answer to contest the petition automatically triggers a hearing to decide if there are grounds for an annulment. The burden will be on the spouse seeking an annulment to prove that grounds exist. In the above example, it will be the filing spouse’s burden to prove he or she was under duress, not your burden to prove otherwise. If the other spouse cannot prove there are grounds for annulment, the judge will not annul the marriage. Either party can still file for divorce.

If you are planning to contest an annulment, you still have the right to file for divorce. It’s important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to fight the annulment petition and preserve your rights, including the right to property division and alimony.

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