People make the final decision to divorce for several different reasons—infidelity, a dispute over financial resources, or a dispute over how the children in a family should be raised.
Additionally, people may end a marriage when one spouse discovers that the other spouse had previously been married and that he or she hid that fact from the new spouse.
Since certain religions do not recognize divorce, or only recognize it under limited circumstances, people in this situation may feel like a victim of a fraud, almost as if they have been subjected to bigamy. For this reason, people may desire an annulment rather than a divorce.
Your Spouse’s Hiding of Prior Marriages Generally Does Not Entitle You to an Annulment
If your spouse hid a prior marriage, you may not be entitled to an annulment. Technically, Illinois law no longer uses the term annulment. Instead, the law talks about having a marriage declared invalid. However, this sort of declaration of invalidity is what is commonly known as an annulment.
The statute that deals with annulments states that a court can declare a marriage invalid if a party was induced to enter into the marriage “by fraud involving the essentials of marriage.” What counts as the “essentials” of a marriage is decided on a case by case basis. The fraudulent representation needs to be about something essential to the marriage relation in order to be grounds for annulment.
Generally speaking, the concealment of a prior marriage that has been dissolved by divorce is not grounds for an annulment because it usually does not go to the essentials of a marriage. There have been exceptions, however.
In cases where a spouse has affirmatively lied about prior marriages and has done so in the process of obtaining a marriage license, an annulment may be allowed. However, if your spouse never made false representations and instead merely withheld information, you are unlikely to succeed in an annulment proceeding.
Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.
If you are considering requesting an annulment or filing for divorce, or if you already have filed for divorce but are now struggling with the process, you should call the DuPage County family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. When you call us at (630) 756-5112 we will schedule an appointment to discuss the details of your situation and determine how we can best be of help to you given your goals and priorities. We can help you fight for an appropriate resolution to the annulment or divorce, and can help you decide which option is best for you.