What is an Annulment?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold being interviewed on the Legal Forum. This was recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina. Topics discussed include: How to choose a divorce lawyer? How long does a divorce take? How much does a divorce cost? When can a person get an annulment?


When two people decide they want to end their marriage, they usually file for divorce. Divorce, also known as divorce from bed and board, is the most common way to dissolve a marriage. You may have heard of annulment and wonder what it is and whether it is a viable alternative for you instead of divorce. Annulment is a legal end to a marriage that is available only in a limited number of circumstances. Annulment not only ends the marriage but essentially voids it as if it did not exist.


danger-turn-back-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Divorce-Attorney-300x225Reasons to Seek Annulment


North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you can obtain a divorce for no reason other than the marriage is irretrievably broken. Annulment is different in that you must have a legitimate reason for requesting this action. You may request annulment for:


  • False Pretenses
  • Incest
  • Impotence
  • Incapacity
  • Minority
  • Lack of Consent
  • Bigotry


False pretenses refers to a situation in which someone may marry based on false information. For instance, if a couple marries only because the woman is pregnant and no baby is born, this might be considered false pretenses. Incest occurs when spouses are related to each other, and are at least as close as first cousins. When the couple is unable to consummate the marriage, it might be possible to request annulment.


Incapacity means that one party was not mentally capable of making the decision to marry. Incapacity claims must be based on medical evidence. If a minor marries without proper consent, the marriage may be annulled. If one party did not consent to the marriage and was forced or coerced into getting married, the marriage may be voided. When one person is already married and has not divorced, the new marriage is not valid.


What is the Annulment Process?


Annulment is a legal process that is similar to divorce. One or the other spouse may file a petition to annul the marriage. The court will hear the case and make a final determination based on the facts and evidence presented in the case. Not all annulment requests are granted. The judge must evaluate the information to ensure that the criteria for annulment is sufficiently met. The spouses will both be present for the hearing and the judge will listen to the evidence before making a decision. If the judge grants an annulment, the parties will no longer be married and the marriage is essentially voided. If the judge does not grant an annulment, the parties will need to file for divorce to end their union. An experienced family law attorney will represent you through the proceedings and present the evidence in your case in court.


Many times, people request annulments soon after they take their vows as they realize that they made a mistake. However, simply making an error in judgement does not qualify for annulment. You must fit one of the criteria for annulment or else go through traditional divorce, regardless of how long you were married. To learn more about annulment and divorce, contact our legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.







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