Most people who are unhappy in their marriage seek advice from lawyers on possible divorce options. However, another possible option is an annulment. Although they effectively have the same outcome—the dissolution of a marriage—the terminology is not the same. An annulment is different because it is considered retroactive, meaning after the process is completed, the marriage is considered null from its start (stating, more or less, that the marriage never happened).
There are multiple reasons where an annulment would be offered. A few examples are: insanity precluding ability to consent; not planning on being faithful to your spouse, or adultery; being kidnapped with the intent to wed; killing the spouse of either partner so the two could then get married, or the couple was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage.
Generally speaking, annulments are associated with the Catholic Church, as they don’t permit divorce. They usually allow annulments if the marriage was “invalidly entered into.”
In Illinois, there are four grounds for annulment: one person was 16- or 17-years-old and did not have parental consent; the marriage could not be consummated by one party, and the other party did not know previously; one person did not have the capacity to agree to the marriage; and if the marriage was prohibited by other laws (e.g., one party already had a spouse).
There are time limits associated with annulments as well, depending on which ground you are filing your claim. Additionally, if any children occur from the marriage, they are still considered legitimate by the law even if an annulment is granted.
If you’re thinking of separating from your spouse, speaking with an experienced family law attorney can help you decide if an annulment is available. Contact our office in DuPage County today.