In some cases, it may be necessary to resolve a marriage dispute by having the marriage declared invalid. Sometimes this is referred to as an “annulment.”
There are basically two types of invalid marriages: those that are void and those that are voidable. Void marriages are those that cannot legally exist and therefore are deemed to never have been valid. Void marriages are generally limited to unions where one party is already legally married to someone else and those between underage parties or close relatives.
In these cases, an annulment would be granted and the marriage would be legally “erased”, as if it never happened.
A voidable marriage on the other hand is a marriage that is technically invalid but isn’t immediately dissolved and continues as a valid union until an annulment is sought. This type of marriage doesn’t violate any moral principle and can at some point, become a legal union if circumstances change. This would include instances where the official presiding over the marriage wasn’t certified to do so or where the parties were underage but are now the age of consent and the marriage was never contested. In cases such as these, the court will normally try to honor the marriage if at all possible, assuming that both parties have continued to live as if the union were valid from the start.
Invalid marriage actions are comparable to divorce actions and follow similar procedures. At the end of an invalidity action, a court will declare the marriage either valid or invalid. Typically, when a marriage is declared valid, one or both parties will then request a decree of divorce. Once declared invalid, the case may turn into a meretricious relationship dissolution case.
Marriages can be invalid for the following reasons:
- Failure of consent
- Close relatives
- Prior Marriage
- Official is not certified
Please contact the Law Office of Clifton L. Davidson, LLC if you have questions or concerns about the validity of your marriage.