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Judgment, how far Conclusive

While both a divorce and annulment are ways to legally end a marriage, the end result of each is not exactly the same. With a divorce, the marriage is dissolved. In other words, a marriage that once existed and was valid ends. Conversely, with an annulment the marriage is invalidated. Under the law it never existed. To put it another way, a judgment of annulment is conclusive evidence of the invalidity of the marriage. If you are considering an annulment or have questions about the legal impact of an annulment, contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer to discuss your case.

Annulling a Marriage

Only marriages that are classified as “voidable” are eligible for divorce. There are 5 circumstances under which a marriage is voidable and eligible for annulment. According to NY Dom Rel Law § 7, the grounds for annulment include:

  • one or both spouses were under age 18 at the time of the marriage
  • one or both spouses suffered from a mental incapacity, and therefore was not able to consent to the marriage
  • either spouse is physically unable to have sexual intercourse
  • either spouse suffered from an incurably mentally ill for at least five years
  • the marriage consent was obtained by duress, coercion or fraud

In order to commence an action for an annulment you must file a petition with the court, and present evidence to support the grounds for the annulment. If the court agrees and orders the annulment, you will receive a judgment of annulment. NY Dom Rel Law § 146 makes it clear that such a judgment is conclusive evidence in any court in any civil or criminal action, that the marriage was invalid for the lifetime of both parties. However, if the judgment was rendered after the death of either party, the judgment is conclusive only against the parties to the action.

Note that in New York there is also such a thing as a marriage that is void. A void marriage is an illegal marriage that was never valid. Void marriages are incestuous marriages, bigamous marriages, and marriages solemnized by someone who did not have the authority to do so. There is no need for a divorce of an annulment to end a void marriage. However, a declaration of nullity can be obtained.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Voidable marriages: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 7
  2. Action for judgment declaring nullity of void marriages or annulling voidable marriage: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 140
  3. Dismissal of complaint in action by next friend to annul a marriage: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 142
Domestic Relations Law, section 146: Judgment, how far conclusive

A final judgment, annulling a marriage rendered during the lifetime of both the parties is conclusive evidence of the invalidity of the marriage in every court of record or not of record, in any action or special proceeding, civil or criminal. Such a judgment rendered after the death of either party to the marriage is conclusive only as against the parties to the action and those claiming under them.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are considering an annulment, it is important that you contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer for specific information about the process for obtaining an annulment and its legal ramifications. With over 2 decades of experience representing clients throughout New York who wish to end their marriages, the staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the skill and resources to 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: Westchester County, Suffolk County, Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Client Reviews
My ex-husband hadn't paid child support or the mortgage on the house as he was supposed to. Stephen Bilkis and his team of lawyers were amazing. They stopped the foreclosure on the house, Got a judgment against him and most importantly kept me and my children in the house. Can't say enough good things about him in the firm their compassion hard work and dedication were exceptional. I.G.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
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