Annulments are court approved matrimony dissolutions which, unlike divorce, erase all legal history of a marriage. It is important to note that annulments can also occur for religious motives, such as taking communion or remarrying in the Roman Catholic Church, or another denomination. If you are seeking information regarding such annulments, please contact your local pastor so they can guide you through the process. It rarely includes assets division or child custody since the marriages are either brief or not recognized by the law. For the benefits of this article, we will only refer to the legal procedure, in which we count ourselves among the divorce lawyers in Tallahassee that can be great assets to you.
Annulments are difficult to obtain because the requesting party must prove to the court that they should have never been married, and that is why they are choosing this option over a divorce. Financially, this means that the former spouse has no right to retirement plans or insurance benefits. Florida annulments have largely been shaped by precedents, and they distinguish between void and voidable marriages.
A void marriage1 is one that has not been valid from its beginning, and cannot be made so. Void marriages can consist of two underage individuals, incest, a mentally incapacitated person who will not recuperate, or an individual who is already married. Although the marriage is technically non-existent, it is almost always preferable to have a judgment reflecting it is void.
Voidable marriages2 are those that are valid until declared otherwise due to specific criteria. If one spouse was heavily intoxicated at the time of marriage, acted in a fraudulent manner regarding the marriage or their motives, at least one spouse was forced to marry, one of the spouses is underage and lacks parental support, one spouse hid their impotency, or if at least one of the spouses simply entered the union as a joke.
In order to obtain an annulment you must file an annulment petition declaring why you wish to void the marriage, and present valid proof to the court supporting your case. It is important to be aware that, if the other spouse was to disagree with this decision, they could file a counter-suit which could potentially result in a divorce instead of annulment. As Tallahassee family law attorneys, we are well versed in defending such counter-petitions for dissolution of marriage.
If you obtain the annulment, you will need to make copies of the final judgement in order to submit to offices such as the social security office, banks, schools, etc. If successful, you will also have to mail a “Dissolution/Annulment report for the Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics” stating both parties’ information.
If custody is an issue, then the court determines the physical and legal custody (known as parental responsibility) as well as all other related matters through a parenting plan. Furthermore, if one party is in significant economic disadvantage, and especially if they have been coerced or abused during the now voided marriage, they may receive temporary alimony to help establish their independence. Such alimony, however, will not be permanent, nor will the court aid them in dividing or allocating their properties, making this a largely more independent process than divorce.