Most spouses who want to end their marriages need to go through the divorce process, but some spouses will qualify for "annulment." When a spouse annuls his or her marriage, it means that the marriage was never a legal marital union in the first place.
There are many reasons why a New York family law judge might agree to annul a marriage. If you qualify for annulment under one of the reasons, the process could be a simpler, less expensive and faster way to dissolve your marriage.
When can spouses get an annulment?
Here are the most common reasons why spouses seek a marriage annulment:
Fraud/misrepresentation: When a spouse lied about important issues relating to the marriage, the other spouse could seek to annul the union. For example, grounds for annulment might include a spouse lying about his or her age, fertility status or concealing the fact that he or she was already married.
Concealment of a serious "deal-breaker:" A judge might annul a marriage if one of the spouses concealed vital information that would have caused the other spouse to reconsider getting married. For example, a spouse might conceal the fact that he or she had an addiction, a previous felony conviction, spent time in jail, was involved in a gang, was committing crimes, suffered from a sexually transmitted disease or other important information.
A refusal or inability to consummate the marriage: Marriage is usually based on the fact that the spouses will engage in sexual relations. If one spouse refuses to "consummate" the marriage sexually, the other spouse could request an annulment.
A serious misunderstanding: Spouses might not understand their true intentions for getting married. In some cases, questions about having children could make or break a marriage. If one spouse wants to have children and the other does not -- but they never adequately discussed the issue -- later revelations on this topic could result in grounds for annulment.
Can you seek the annulment of your marriage?
If you can annul your marriage as opposed to getting a divorce, it could be a benefit to you or a problem financially. Therefore, before you choose to annul your marriage, you might want to explore the various options you have under New York law to bring your marriage to a close.