There is a common misconception that annulment can be obtained as an alternative to divorce in circumstances where the parties have only been married for a short time. The purpose of an annulment is to declare judicially that because of some disability or defect that existed at the time of a marriage, a valid marriage did not take place. The difference between a divorce and annulment is that a divorce is sought to end a valid marriage while an annulment is sought to declare that a valid marriage never existed. An annulment renders the marriage void from the beginning while dissolution of marriage terminates the marriage on the date of the entry of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.Annulment Grounds
A marriage is considered void if one of the parties had a prior valid marriage and did not obtain a divorce prior to the current marriage. Deceit or gross fraud inducing a party to marry renders the marriage voidable if the parties did not have sexual intercourse. Even if fraud has occurred an annulment cannot be obtained if the marriage was consummated. Fraud may occur by one party concealing a chronic venereal disease at the time of the marriage.
There are several other particular grounds that are a basis for an annulment:
- valid prior marriage
- incestuous marriage
- marriage under the age of consent
- mental incapacity
- a lack of physical capacity to consummate the marriage
- a consent wrongfully procured by force,duress,fraud or concealment
A marriage that has been consummated cannot be annulled for fraud. Because obtaining an annulment is so legally technical and fact intensive, it is important to consult with a highly experienced annulment attorney. With over 40 years of experience, the law offices of West Palm Beach divorce and family attorney, Stephen J. Press offers a free consultation concerning your situation and will protect your rights should you seek an annulment.Temporary Alimony and Attorneys Fees
The circuit court has equitable jurisdiction to award temporary alimony and attorney’s fees to the party seeking annulment. However, in order to qualify for temporary alimony and attorneys fees, a party must demonstrate both his or her need for, and the other party's ability to pay, the support and fees requested. A court may order such relief even where there is a question as to whether the parties have a valid marriage based on an alleged prior marriage for one of the parties to another person.This type of alimony is referred to as equitable alimony and may be awarded to a putative spouse in a void or voidable marriage.
The law offices of West Palm Beach annulment attorney, Stephen J. Press takes pride in its professionalism and is passionate about defending the rights of its clients. If you are considering an annulment proceeding or would just like a consultation, please call our office at (561) 833-2772 or contact us online.