Marriage Annulment in New York
Like divorce, annulment is a way to legally dissolve a marriage. However, there is a significant difference. When a marriage is annulled, the law declares that the marriage is no longer valid even though it was valid or appeared to be valid at the time the coupled married. There are two types of marriages which can be annulled under New York law: void marriages and voidable marriages. A void marriage is one that was void at its inception. A voidable marriage is one that can be voided by a judge. It is important to understand that even though a marriage was invalid it still must be annulled in order for it to be actually and legally declared invalid. If you are in need of a divorce lawyer because you or someone you care about is in a marriage that you believe is void or voidable, it is important that you contact an experienced New York annulment lawyer who will explain to you the steps in the annulment process and who can help with other family law issues related to your annulment such as custody of your children, division of property, and issues related to child support.Difference between annulment, divorce and legal separation
An annulment is when a court says your marriage is not legally valid. For example, a marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid and may be annulled. A divorce ends a valid marriage. Once a divorce is final, the parties will be single again and can marry again. Unlike an annulment or divorce, a legal separation does not end a marriage or result in a marriage being declared invalid. The parties to a legal separation remain married. A person who is legally separated cannot enter into a valid marriage with another person.Grounds for annulment in New York
Under New York Domestic Relations Law sections 5, 6 and 7, the following are the grounds for annulment:Void marriages
- The marriage was incestuous
- One of the parties was already legally married to another person
- The marriage was solemnized but someone who did not have the authority to do so.
- One of the parties was too young to consent. In New York you must be at least 18 to marry. Otherwise you must have the written consent of both parents. A person under the age of 16 also must have the consent of a judge. However, if the spouses continue to freely cohabitate after both reach the age of majority, then they would have waived any claim to annulment based on being underage.
- One of the parties lacked the mental capacity to consent. A mentally ill or mentally incapacitated person cannot consent to marriage.
- One of the parties is physically incapacitated. If one of the parties is physically unable to have sexual intercourse, but was unaware of it at the time of the marriage, the marriage may be annulled.
- One of the parties entered into the marriage based on force or fraud. Examples of fraud include: marrying in order to get a green card or pretending to be pregnant in order to entice someone to marry. Even though fraud is grounds for annulment, a claim of fraud can be waived if the defrauded spouse learns of the fraud and continues to cohabitate with the other spouse.
- One of the parties is mentally ill. If your spouse is mentally ill for more than 5 years and cannot be cured, you may be able to obtain an annulment.
While divorce and annulment are in some ways distinguishable, in other ways they are legally quite similar. Just like in a divorce proceeding, during an annulment proceeding the following issues can be addressed:
- Spousal maintenance
- Division of marital property
- Child support
- Child custody and visitation
If you believe that your marriage is invalid, then it is important that you have experienced representation. Even though both a divorce and annulment legally end a marriage, the evidentiary requirements for annulment proceedings are complicated and technical and are quite different from the what is required for a divorce proceeding. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully representing clients who are seeking a divorce, annulment or legal separation and who have other family law matters. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.