Annulment in Florida: a brief guide.There are two legal ways to dissolve a marriage: divorce and annulment. Although both divorce and annulment aim to end a marriage legally, they are quite different in their core meanings.
Where a divorce ends a marriage, an annulment renders the marriage null and void as if it had never happened.
However, obtaining an annulment is much more complicated than a divorce in Florida.
As Florida has a no-fault divorce policy, irreconcilable differences between the parties must exist to seek a divorce, while annulling a marriage requires certain requirements to be met.
Let’s look at the big picture to understand the annulment law in Florida and the legal grounds for obtaining it.
What is it?
Annulment is a legal term that merely declares the marriage null and restores the parties to their lives as they were, before the marriage, as if it never happened. But every marriage does not qualify to get an annulment.
In Florida, no statute explicitly deals with annulment; instead, court precedents and case law get used to interpreting the circumstances in which an annulment can be granted.
By such precedent, any void or voidable marriage can get annulled. However, every void marriage can get annulled, but not every voidable marriage can get annulled.
As for annulment, Florida law differentiates between void and voidable marriages.
Void marriages are those; which are illegal and invalid from the beginning and cannot get rectified. Such marriages do not exist in the eyes of the law and can get annulled without any hassle. For instance, marrying again when the previous marriage still subsided and valid is illegal and eligible for annulment.
On the other hand, Voidable marriages may get considered invalid in certain circumstances. For instance, hiding the fact about previous marriage is considered voidable and a legal ground for annulment.
What are the grounds of annulment in Florida?
Based on certain precedents, the Florida court recognizes some common reasons that qualify a marriage to get annulled. Let’s look into these reasons:
Bigamy: if any party to the marriage; is already married to another person and that marriage still exists in the eyes of the law, the second marriage is void and can get annulled.
Incest: every marriage between blood relatives such as siblings, uncle and niece, father and daughter, and mother and son is void.
Minority: If either party to the marriage is under 18 years of age and the marriage gets solemnized without the legal guardian’s consent, that marriage is considered void and can get annulled.
Permanent mental incapacity: If either party suffers from permanent mental illness and the court finds that the party is unfit to consent to the marriage, the court can declare the marriage null and void. Thus, a permanent mental incapacity can be a valid reason to get an annulment.
Impotence: before marriage, if one of the parties was unaware of the impotence of the other party, the marriage is voidable and can get annulled.
Temporary mental incapacity: if either party was incapable of consenting at the time of marriage due to temporary mental illness, the marriage is voidable and can get annulled.
Intoxication: if either party was incapable of giving consent to the marriage due to the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of marriage, the marriage is voidable at the party’s option and can get annulled.
Fraud: If either of the parties has concealed a fundamental aspect of the marriage of which the other party should have known or misrepresented facts to trick the party into marrying, it is a fraud, and the marriage is voidable and can get annulled.
Duress: if either party entered into marriage due to force, coercion, or threat, the marriage is voidable and is liable to be annulled.
Joke: If the parties to the marriage performed the marriage as part of a joke or dare, the marriage is voidable and can get annulled.
Can the court refuse to grant annulment?
Yes, an annulment can get denied. In Florida, an annulment can get granted in certain circumstances, and the party must prove that sufficient reasons exist to qualify the marriage to get annulled.
The court may refuse annulment if the alleged party fails to prove the fact and does not provide sufficient evidence to support the claim.
However, the party can apply for a divorce if the annulment gets denied.
Can you get Alimony in annulment?
Alimony is spousal support from one spouse to the other non-earning or lower-earning spouse to meet their financial needs and maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. Courts consider several factors to decide whether alimony should be awarded or denied.
In divorce cases, generally, the court grants an appropriate sum to a needy spouse if the circumstances demonstrate the financial need. However, an annulment does not evolve any right of alimony.
As the annulment vanishes the existence of marriages as it never existed, there is no question of alimony. When there is no legal marriage, there is no spousal support.
Even the equitable distribution of marital assets does not apply in the case of annulment.
Because technically, there is no marriage. Thus, you won’t get any alimony in annulment, as you can in divorce cases.
Is there any statute of limitation to file for annulment in Florida?
A statute of limitation restricts the initiation of legal proceedings beyond a certain period.
As for annulment, there are no such limitations; that restrict any person from obtaining an annulment in Florida. Thus, you are free to file for annulment anytime.
Wrapping up:Annulment in Florida
Ending a marriage is a tough choice. But if you have made up your mind; to dissolve your marriage, seek advice from a recognized attorney who can serve you in your best interest.
Whether you file a divorce or an annulment, understand the pros and cons before arriving at any conclusion. It helps you in deciding the best available option. As always, it is about free will and what we want to do at any given time.