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When Can I Get An Annulment?

Clients often ask us questions about annulment. It’s common to want to know whether an annulment is an option rather than a divorce. It is a very common misconception to believe that you can obtain an annulment for very short marriages. In reality, annulments are rare.

An annulment is possible for a marriage that is is void under VA Code 20-38.1. A void marriage is invalid and not legal, and therefore a candidate for an annulment. An annulment is possible for a marriage that is voidable under VA code 20-89.1. A voidable marriage is valid but a party can declare that it is invalid at anytime.

Grounds for Annulment:

  • No license/solemnization – the marriage is performed without the proper license.
  • Bigamy – the marriage occurs before the dissolution an earlier marriage of one of the parties.
  • Incest – the marriage is between relatives forbidden to marry.
  • Lack of capacity-mental infirmity – either party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage when it was performed because of mental incapacity or infirmity.
  • Fraud or duress – fraud is materially affecting the essentials of the marriage.
  • Impotence – natural or incurable impotence exists at the time of entering into the marriage (and the other didn’t know).
  • Felony conviction – either party was a convicted felon before the marriage, and the other didn’t know.
  • Pregnancy by third party – at the time of the marriage, the wife, without the knowledge of the husband, was with child by a person other than the husband.
  • Pregnancy of a third party – the husband had a child with another woman within 10 months of the marriage, and the wife didn’t know.
  • Prior prostitution – either party was a prostitute before the marriage, and the other didn’t know.


If the marriage does not meet one of the above then you have to get a divorce instead. The length of the marriage doesn’t matter. This is true even if someone is a service member.

Commander Law is a Family Law firm serving Hampton Roads, including Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Hampton, Newport News, & York County.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
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