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Dismissal of Complaint in Action by Next Friend to Annul a Marriage

According to NY Dom Rel Law § 7, certain marriages are void and certain marriages are voidable. If a marriage is void, it is invalid. On the other hand, if a marriage is voidable, it can be invalidated by an annulment. An annulment is a legal proceeding that not only ends a marriage, it results in a marriage being considered void—it never existed. There are only a few circumstances under which a marriage is voidable through annulment: a party must be under the age of 18, a spouse was mentally incapacitated, either spouse is physically unable to consummate the marriage, either spouse is incurably mentally ill, or the consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud, duress, or coercion. Not all petitions for annulment will be granted. For example, according to NY Dom Rel Law § 142, if the petition is submitted by a next friend to one of the spouses, the court may dismiss it if justice requires it. If you are considering petitioning the court to annul your marriage or the marriage of a loved one, contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer who understands the legalities related to voiding a marriage.

Action for annulment

Three of the 5 circumstances under which a marriage can be annulled because it is voidable include a marriage involving a person who may not have the legal capacity to consent, such as one of the parties is under the age of 18, is mentally incapacitated, or is incurably mentally ill. An action for annulment can be initiated by such a person’s next friend. A next friend is a person who represents another person who is under a disability and, therefore, is unable to maintain a lawsuit on his or her own behalf. A next friend will only have the authority to act if a guardian has not been appointed.

While a next friend does not have to be the person to initiate an action for annulment, in cases where he or she does, the court is not required to grant the annulment. According to NY Dom Rel Law § 142, if justice requires it, the judge may dismiss the complaint even though the plaintiff would otherwise be entitled to prevail.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Action for judgment declaring nullity of void marriages or annulling voidable marriage: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 140
  2. Jury trial: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 143
  3. Proof required: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 144
  4. Judgment, how far conclusive: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 146
Domestic Relations Law, section 142: Dismissal of complaint in action by next friend to annul a marriage

Where the next friend of an infant, mentally retarded person or mentally ill person maintains an action annulling a marriage, the court may dismiss the complaint if justice so requires, although, in a like case, the party to the marriage, if plaintiff, would be entitled to judgment.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have questions about the process of annulling a voidable marriage, contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer, as the process is complicated, particularly if you would need to initiate the action in a “next friend” capacity. With over 20 years of experience representing clients throughout New York in complex marriage dissolution matters, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Westchester County, Suffolk County, and Nassau County.

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