In this day and age, most people are aware of the complications that exist with divorce. Some marriages just don’t work out. However, sometimes, rather than a divorce, a marriage may be eligible for annulment. This comprehensive guide to Texas annulments will help you understand what it means to annul a marriage in Texas and what it requires.
What is an Annulment?
An annulment is a very specific lawsuit. An annulment suit happens when a judge decides that a particular marriage is invalid because of problems that existed when the marriage occurred. When a judge grants an annulment it’s as if the marriage never took place and the couple is no longer married. But not all annulments are as easy as they sound. This is especially true if children and property are involved.
The Differences Between Divorce and Annulment
In divorce cases, the Texas court recognizes that a valid marriage is ending. Divorce in Texas can be simple or complex depending on how easily the spouses can reach an agreement. There are several types of Texas divorce, including:
- Uncontested divorce or No-fault divorce
- Fault divorce
- Military divorce
- Mediated divorce
- Litigated divorce
With a marriage annulment, the court does not recognize the marriage as valid. Instead, it considers the marriage invalid. The court will view the marriage as though it never legally existed.
What are the General Grounds for Annulment?
In order to annul a marriage in Texas, the marriage must meet certain legal grounds for an annulment. In the state of Texas, there are several grounds under which a spouse can file an annulment:
- At least one spouse was under the age of 18
- At least one party lacked the mental capacity to enter into a marriage
- Either party is permanently impotent
- One party was compelled to marry the other due to duress, fraud, or force
- One party was under the influence of narcotics or under the influence of alcohol
- The marriage ceremony took place within 72 hours of the issuance of the marriage license
- A spouse hid a prior divorce
Requirements for Annulling a Marriage if One Party is Under 18
As of September 1, 2017, the Texas Family Code states that you are not legally eligible to marry if you are under the age of 18 and are not legally emancipated.
Individuals who are between the ages of 16 and 18 who marry without parental consent, or the proper court order may seek an annulment. In these cases, the judge will review the welfare of both parties including if there is a pregnancy involved.
The petition for annulment can be filed by any of the following:
- A parent – prior to the 18th birthday of the involved party
- A next friend for the underage spouse – within 90 days of the marriage
- A court-ordered managing conservator or guardian – prior to the 18th birthday of the involved party
Requirements for Marriage Annulment on the Grounds of Mental Incapacity
Texas law states that the court may grant an annulment if one party did not have the mental capacity to consent to be married or if they did not understand the marriage ceremony at the time of marriage. The filing party must not continue to voluntarily live with the other party once they do have the mental capacity to realize they are married.
Likewise, a court may agree to annul a marriage if the petitioner was not aware that the other party didn’t have the mental capacity to consent to marriage. As in the other situations, the person filing cannot have voluntarily lived with the other party once they discovered their lack of mental capacity.
Requirements to Annul a Marriage on the Grounds of Impotence
If either spouse is permanently unable to have sexual intercourse for either mental or physical reasons at the time of the marriage ceremony and the person filing for the annulment was unaware of the condition, then they may qualify for an annulment. In addition, the person filing must not have voluntarily chosen to continue living with the spouse since learning about the impotence.
Annulment Requirements when Fraud, Duress, or Force is Involved
If one party made a vital misrepresentation to persuade or influence the other party into marrying them then the marriage may be annulled. As in previous situations, the person filing must not have continued to live with the spouse once they learned about the fraud.
If the petitioner can prove that the other spouse threatened them into getting married and the petitioner felt as though they had no choice, this may also be grounds to have a marriage annulled. The person filing for the annulment must not have voluntarily lived with the spouse once they were no longer under the influence of force or duress.
Annulment Requirements when Alcohol or Narcotics are Involved
A Texas annulment may be granted if the person filing for annulment was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol to the degree that they lacked the mental capacity to consent to get married. It’s also important that the person who filed did not voluntarily live with their spouse after they were no longer under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Annulment on the Grounds that the Marriage Took Place within 72 Hours of Issuing the Marriage License
If a couple is married within 72 hours of having their marriage license issued, then an annulment may be an option. In this case, the annulment suit must be filed within 30 days of the marriage. There are exceptions that are best discussed with a qualified family law attorney.
Annulment Grounds When One Party Conceals a Prior Divorce
If the person filing to have the marriage annulled was not aware and would not have known that the other party was divorced from a prior marriage within 30 days prior to the day they were married then this, too, could be grounds for annulment. As in all other annulment suits, the petitioner must not voluntarily live with the other spouse after finding out about the concealed divorce. However, unlike the others, in this case, the suit may be filed up until the first-year anniversary of the marriage.
Residency: How long do I have to live in Texas to file for an annulment?
Before either party can file for an annulment, they must meet at least one residency requirement:
- One or both spouses must live in Texas
- The spouses were married in Texas
When to Seek Legal Advice for an Annulment
Any time you are ending a marriage be it through annulment or divorce, you should speak with a qualified divorce attorney. Filing for divorce or annulment can be complicated. If you have children or community property, then there may be disagreements on how these things should be handled.
Texas law can be complex and having helpful legal advice from your divorce lawyer could prove to be invaluable. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself, your children, and your assets.
If your marriage does not qualify to be annulled, then your attorney can help you through the divorce process.