An annulment is similar to a divorce in that it legally ends a marriage. An annulment is different, however, in that it declares that a marriage was never technically valid, and therefore that it never existed. Most annulments occur within a matter of weeks or months into a marriage because grounds for annulment are typically discovered early on in a marriage, if any exist. This means that annulments often do not involve dividing property or making decisions regarding children.
There are several reasons that a marriage might be found to be invalid and therefore eligible for an annulment. Keep in mind, however, that grounds for an annulment do vary by state, so it is important to talk to an attorney in your state if you are considering getting an annulment. Here are some of the most common grounds for annulment:
Fraud or Misrepresentation
One spouse may have entered the marriage having lied about something significant relating to the marriage relationship. The spouse might have in fact already been married to someone else upon entering this marriage, for example, or that spouse might have lied about childbearing abilities. Other examples of fraud or misrepresentation include marrying only for the sake of obtaining citizenship, or lying about age when in reality that spouse was not old enough to consent to marriage.
Similar to fraud and misrepresentation is concealment, and this occurs when one spouse hides a major fact going into the marriage. The spouse may have concealed a serious drug addiction, a felony conviction, a sexually transmitted disease, or even one or more children from a past relationship.
If one spouse is incurably impotent, then this can also be potential grounds for the other spouse for getting an annulment. The other spouse, however, must have been unaware of the impotency when entering the marriage.
Lack of Consent
If one or both spouses did not have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage, then an annulment is a possibility. Lack of consent might occur when a spouse is threatened or coerced into the marriage, when a spouse is intoxicated at the time of marriage, or when a spouse is clinically insane at the time of marriage.
If it is discovered that the two spouses are too close in familial relation to be lawfully married, then this can also be grounds for annulment.