The decision to end a marriage is not easy and can be emotionally and physically draining on both spouses. In Illinois, there are essentially two ways to terminate a marriage: either by a divorce or by an annulment. Although both methods make it so that the couple is no longer married, the eligibility factors for each method are quite different.
A divorce results in a legal dissolution of a valid marriage between two partners. An annulment, on the other hand, cancels a marriage and legally declares that there was never a valid marriage in the first place. In Illinois, an annulment is referred to as a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage and the specific rules governing it can be found in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Why Pursue an Annulment vs. Divorce?
Both divorce and annulment accomplish the same thing: ending a marriage. However, some people choose to pursue an annulment rather than a divorce for several reasons. Despite the fact that divorce has become more prominent in the past several years, some people still feel that it carries a stigma. Thus, they prefer to make it so that their marriage was invalid from the beginning.
Additionally, people who have strong ties to their church with hopes of finding love again may also choose to annul their marriage. Sometimes, remarrying through the church is easier when a prior marriage was annulled. It is important to note that although it is possible to obtain an annulment of marriage in Illinois by a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage, it may not be easy because the requirements can be difficult to satisfy.
Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court will grant a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage if:
- One of the partners lacked the capacity to enter into the marriage due to mental incapacity;
- One of the partners is physically incapable to consummate the marriage and the other partner was not aware of the partner’s incapacity;
- One of the partners was either 16 or 17 years old at the time of the marriage and did not obtain consent from his or her parents or legal guardian; or
- The marriage is prohibited.
In addition to the above requirements, Illinois also enforces strict time limits on when a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage should be filed upon the triggering event. Thus, if you are contemplating filing for a divorce or seeking a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage in the DuPage County area, contact one of the DuPage County family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. We will carefully review the facts surrounding your case and keep your best interests in mind before providing you with the appropriate legal advice.