When two people are getting married, the excitement of planning and celebrating the upcoming matrimonial bliss is the focal point, but in actually, it is really two people entering into a legal binding contract. In order for the contract to be valid, there are certain requirements that have to be met. Parties have to come to a meeting of the minds and must be capable of entering into an agreement freely and voluntarily. Ultimately, when this contract is breached or broken, however, the parties go to divorce court. For most people, when a marriage ends, they file for divorce, because the marriage is irretrievably broken. But for a small fraction of individuals, an annulment can be filed, which states that the marriage was invalid from the beginning. While annulments can seem like an attractive or less complicated approach, it is not a simple fix and Florida has specific legal requirements and proof standards for a situation to qualify for an annulment ruling or court order.
In Florida to receive an annulment, you have to show that there was:
1 Bigamy– meaning that the person you thought that you were marrying is actually already married to someone else; OR
2 Inability to consent– if you or your spouse was drunk, under the influence of drugs, had a mental or physical disability that would not permit them to actually consent to the agreement; OR
3 Impotence-If one spouse is impotent and does not disclose this to the other spouse, the marriage may be void; OR
4 Force-If either party is forced to marry by either coercion, threat, or duress, the marriage may be void;
5 Fraud-there are some circumstances that when facts are concealed from the other spouse that would substantially affect the marriage, the marriage would be void; OR
6 Underaged Spouse-Finally, if one spouse is underage, and has not received the consent of the parents prior to the marriage, the marriage may be void.
The spouse that petitions for annulment must prove that one of the above grounds in order to receive an annulment for the court. Typically, in these circumstances, spousal support is not ordered by the court and the parties each leave with the property that they came into the marriage with. When it is appropriate, however, like in the situation when child is born during the marriage even if it is found to be invalid, annulment may still be possible if there are facts that support the findings of paternity and establishment of a duty to support. The facts that are necessary to prove an annulment can be legally technical and require the necessary evidence to show that each element of the case is proven. Just like a divorce, a judge will review your case for annulment, and would enter an order that essentially make it as though your marriage never happened. The difference, however, the normal division of property and debt that would occur in a divorce would not happen. In these cases, it would be important to discuss your case with an experienced family law attorney to determine if your situation would be appropriate for annulment or other remedies available in Florida Family Law.
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. is a law firm based in Jacksonville, Florida with experienced and qualified family law attorneys. Contact Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. today to set up a consultation. At Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., we are On Your Side – At Your Side.