Erasing A Marriage

There are circumstances under which a married couple seeks not just to have the marriage come to an end, but also to be able to treat the marriage as if it never happened. An annulment is a court procedure that accomplishes this. While both divorce and annulment end the marriage, a divorce recognizes that the marriage was valid, but an annulment declares the marriage null and void from its inception.

Why is this distinction important to people? There are numerous reasons: Some still see divorce as carrying a stigma, and they feel that ending the marriage through annulment offers a different process that declares that it was never valid and never really occurred. They feel this helps avoid the embarrassment and/or stigma of ending it with a divorce, which they feel implies that the marriage failed.

Another reason has religious implications: Some houses of worship or religions may make it more difficult or impossible to marry for a second time with the blessings of the religious leaders and community. Having the marriage annulled means that in the eyes of that religious community, it never occurred, and the person can remarry without facing any of the issues associated with divorce.

There are two types of annulment: religious and civil. Religious annulments are issued by the religion and civil annulments are granted by the government of the couple's state of residence.

The Specific Requirements Of Annulment

In Georgia, specific requirements must be met to have the courts even consider ending a marriage by annulment. One of the most important is that there must not be any children born or to be born (i.e., pregnancy) of the marriage.

Assuming the couple qualifies to be considered for annulment, there are a number of circumstances that would lead to one being granted. One of the following circumstances must exist in the marriage:

  • Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage (i.e., inability to have sexual relations)
  • Concealment (of addiction to drugs or alcohol)
  • Felony conviction
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Impotency, children from prior relationship
  • Misunderstanding (of a fundamental marital precept such as the desire to have or not have children)
  • Fraud or misrepresentation (such as not being legally of age to marry, not disclosing a current marriage, not disclosing impotence or infertility)

If you are facing the end of your marriage and are considering filing for an annulment or have been served a petition for annulment, please call a lawyer. You need a knowledgeable, confident, concerned and considerate attorney who will explain all the aspects and options that annulment offers to you and help you through the process.

Furthermore, depending on your circumstances, you may wish to defend against an annulment and pursue a divorce instead. Or, you may wish to defend against a divorce and pursue an annulment instead. Contact the Alpharetta office of Hecht Family Law, and we will help you navigate the maze of options and make the right annulment decision for yourself ... and do it affordably.