Annulment vs Divorce in Texas

Two wedding rings with a gavel in the background below the words "Annulment vs Divorce"Many different circumstances may lead someone to seek a divorce. In some cases, the marriage simply stops working, so spouses seek divorce through traditional or collaborative methods. However, sometimes people seek a divorce because the marriage should never have happened in the first place. In such circumstances, annulment may be the right option.

Annulment is generally a shorter process, but it also has a lot of requirements that may be difficult to meet. If you’re seeking to end a marriage in Texas, this information can help you determine if annulment is right for you.

Legal Annulment Definition

A divorce is a declaration that a marriage is over. To obtain a divorce, the marriage must have been valid before one or both parties chose to end it. However, an annulment is more like a statement that a marriage should not have happened and so – legally – did not happen.

A legal annulment is different from a religious annulment. Some religions – such as Catholicism – have strict guidelines against divorce, making annulment the only option for ending a marriage. Getting a marriage annulled by the church and getting one annulled by a court are completely different processes. A legal annulment will not necessarily lead to an annulment being granted by the church; likewise, a church’s declaration that a marriage is annulled will not be valid in court.

It’s also important to understand that an annulment is for a “voidable” marriage, which is different from a “void” one. Void marriages are those which include things like polygamy or child marriages. Since such marriages are not void in the eyes of the law to begin with, they do not need to be annulled.

Annulment in Texas

Every state has laws that allow for marriage annulment, but they all differ slightly. Different states may have different grounds, guidelines, or statutes of limitations for annulment. For example, Texas is one of the few states that allows a person who requests an annulment to demand a jury trial.

If you’re looking to get an annulment in Texas, you must meet one of these conditions

  • Underage marriage. If you were over 16 under 18 when you got married and you did not have parental consent or a court order, the court may grant you an annulment.
  • You were under the influence. You know those shows that talk about someone getting drunk in Vegas and waking up the next morning married? Those kinds of marriages are usually eligible for annulment. If you were drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of the marriage, annulment is possible.
  • Impotency. An inability to consummate the marriage may be grounds for annulment if the parties didn’t live together after the impotency was discovered and the impotency is permanent.
  • Duress or fraud. If someone used duress, fraud, or force to get you to marry them, you can likely prove grounds for annulment.
  • Mental incapacity. If one of the parties was mentally incapable of understanding what they were doing at the time of the marriage, the court may grant an annulment.
  • Marriage within 3 days of receiving license. If there were less than 72 hours between receiving the license and getting married, annulment is possible.
  • Concealed divorce. If your spouse was divorced less than 30 days before your marriage and there was no way you could have known about this divorce, there may be grounds for marriage annulment.

In these last two cases, the divorce must be filed within 30 days of the marriage. In the cases of intoxication, impotency, or fraud, it’s imperative that you don’t live together after realizing that the marriage was a mistake. If you were married under duress or force, you need to leave immediately after being freed in order to prove that you do not want to be married.

Children and Property after Annulment

In some cases, the courts will declare that since the marriage shouldn’t have happened, the property does not need to be divided up. However, they will determine things on a case-by-case basis and may ultimately decide that the usual property division rules of divorce are necessary in your case. Things get especially complicated if there are kids. Children born during a marriage that is later annulled still need to be provided for.

Were you involved in a marriage that should never have happened? Attorney Alison Grant can help you get it annulled. Contact her today to determine if annulment is right for you.