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.