Getting a Marriage Annulled
Getting a Marriage Annulled
By Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.
What is an
What is the basis for an
Who may annul?
In our modern world, an annulment
tends to be more a creature of religion than of law. Annulments are rarely
granted and when they are, very specific circumstances must exist.
Often people believe that they may annul a marriage
simply because it was of a very short duration. That is not the case. To annul
a marriage, a person must demonstrate that the marriage is void
because it is prohibited by the laws of the State or is voidable
because the intent to enter into a civil contract was not present at the time
that the parties married.
What is an
Marriage is a civil contract between a man and a
woman. As a result, the contract is legally binding so long as the requisite
elements of the contract were present when the parties married. If the elements
of the contract were not present, the marriage may be annulled. That means, the
marriage is treated as if it never existed. For all purposes, it is considered
null and void.
is the effect of an Annulment?
In some states, an annulment may result in the harsh
result of extinguishing interests in property acquired during the purported
marriage. In such states, each party would be entitled to the property in their
own name. This is not true under Minnesota law.
In fact, Minnesota recognizes the concept of a
"putative spouse." Any person who has cohabited with another under a
good faith belief that the person was legally married acquires the same rights
conferred by the divorce statute including property rights and the right to
spousal maintenance. These rights terminate when a person discovers that they
may not be legally married. It is important to remember that in the case of
Bigamy (more than one spouse), the second putative spouse's rights do not
supercede the rights acquired of the legal spouse (the first spouse). However,
the Court may apportion property, maintenance, and support rights among the
claimants as appropriate "in the circumstances and in the interests of justice."
is the basis for an Annulment?
An annulment may be granted when a marriage is
automatically void under the law for public policy reasons or voidable by one
party when certain requisite elements of the marriage contract were not present
at the time of the marriage.
A marriage is automatically void and is automatically
annulled when it is prohibited by law. Under Minnesota's statutes a lawful
marriage may be contracted when the following requisites are met:
only when a license has been obtained as provided by
when the marriage is contracted in the presence of
and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or
both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, by law to marry
- only between persons of the opposite sex; and
Any marriage occurring after April 26, 1941, without
these elements is considered null and void. Additionally, Minnesota Statutes
specifically prohibits a nullifies the following marriage without any decree of
dissolution or other legal proceedings :
- Bigamy. A marriage entered into before
the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties becomes final,
as provided in section
or by the law of the jurisdiction where the dissolution was granted;
- Interfamily Marriage. A marriage
between an ancestor and a descendant, or between a brother and a sister,
whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption;
- Marriage between Close Relatives. A
marriage between an uncle and a niece, between an aunt and a nephew, or
between first cousins, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole
blood, except as to marriages permitted by the established customs of
aboriginal cultures; and
- Same Sex Marriage. A marriage between
persons of the same sex, a marriage entered into by persons of the same
sex, either under common law or statute even if the same sex
marriage was recognized by another state or foreign jurisdiction. Any
rights granted by the foreign jurisdiction recognizing the same sex
marriage are unenforceable in the state of Minnesota.
A voidable marriage is one where an annulment is not
automatic and must be sought by one of the parties. Generally, an annulment may
be sought by one of the parties to a marriage if the intent to enter into the
civil contract of marriage was not present at the time of the marriage, either
due to mental illness, intoxication, duress or fraud. Minnesota Statutes set
out the following circumstances under which a marriage may be annulled by
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