Annulments can be a confusing legal topic as “annulment” can refer to a designation handed down by a religious institution as well as a legal determination made by a state court which will effectively terminate a marriage. To be clear, an annulment from a religious institution may have importance for you within that institution, but it will not have the effect of terminating a legal marriage in the eyes of the state. Only a court can grant a legal annulment. Not all states offer annulments, but Pennsylvania issues annulments on a number of grounds, described below.
It is important to understand that annulment differs from divorce in that an annulment will mean the marriage was void, and a spouse’s property rights and rights to alimony may be different following an annulment as opposed to following a divorce. Speak with an experienced family law attorney regarding whether an annulment is the best option in your situation.
Bigamy and Consanguinity
Bigamy – the simultaneous marriages of a spouse to multiple other spouses – is illegal in Pennsylvania, and any bigamous marriage will be considered void from the outset and an annulment will be issued.
Pennsylvania also prohibits marriages between certain blood relatives, such as a parent and child, brother and sister, first cousins, and other combinations of blood relatives. This is referred to as “consanguinity” and such marries are also considered void.
Under the Legal Age to Marry
Persons under the age of 16 are not allowed to marry, and those who are 16 or 17 can only marry with parental consent or court authorization. Although such marriages are not inherently void, a spouse can later have the marriage annulled under certain circumstances.
If a spouse was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs when he or she got married, then that spouse may act to have the marriage annulled within 60 days of the ceremony.
If one spouse is “naturally and incurably impotent” at the time of marriage, and the other spouse was not aware of this at the time of the marriage, the other spouse may act to have the marriage annulled.
Fraud, Duress, Coercion, or Force
Under Pennsylvania law, a marriage can be annulled, “Where one party was induced to enter into the marriage due to fraud, duress, coercion or force attributable to the other party and there has been no subsequent voluntary cohabitation after knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of fraud, duress, coercion or force.”
Get Help With Your PA Family Law Issue Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., we work with individuals and families across southeastern Pennsylvania family law matters. Call us today for a no-hassle consultation regarding any questions you have about the annulment or divorce process in Pennsylvania.