What Is An Annulment?

Marriage is more than a verbal promise of a lifetime commitment between partners. Marriage is a legally binding contract, one with specific conditions that must be met in order for it to be considered valid. If a couple wishes to separate, they must generally undergo the divorce process in order to formalize their legal separation.

In some cases, couples may be eligible for an annulment instead of a divorce. Annulments are only allowable under very specific circumstances, however, and as such they are quite rare. Keep reading to learn more about annulments and their specifications, courtesy of our family attorneys in Camdenton MO.

What Is An Annulment?

Simply put, an annulment is a legal order that ends a marriage. Unlike divorce, however, an annulment dissolves a marriage so completely that legally, it is deemed to have never even existed. Most marriages are willingly and knowingly entered into by persons with the authority and capacity to make their own decisions, and thus do not qualify for annulments. Annulments are only allowed in certain situations where the marriage could be considered invalid and void from the very beginning.

Who Qualifies For An Annulment?

If a marriage occurs under any of the following circumstances, it may qualify for an annulment.

In order to legally enter into a marriage, both spouses must be at least 18 years of age. If adolescents under the age of 18 wish to be married, they must obtain written consent from their guardians. If one or both spouses are under 18 and do not have written permission, the marriage may be annulled.

Blood Relations
Laws against incest prohibit a legal marriage between any of the following family relations: grandparent and grandchild, parent and child, aunt/uncle and niece/nephew, brother and sister, or first cousins. In order to be considered valid, a marriage must exist between two spouses who are not immediate family members.

Lack of Capacity
Both spouses must be of sound mind in order to knowingly enter into their marriage contract. If one of the spouses does not have the mental capacity (due to disability or senility) to knowingly consent to the marriage and all that it entails, it may be considered void.

If one of the spouses is incurably impotent, he is legally required to disclose this fact to his future spouse prior to getting married. If it can be proven that the other spouse was unaware of this condition until after the marriage was finalized, the contract may qualify for an annulment.

In order for a marriage to be considered valid, both spouses must willingly enter into the agreement. If one of the spouses is pressured or forced into the agreement, the marriage may be annulled.

Missouri law prohibits individuals from being married to more than one person at a time. It does not matter if spouses have been separated for several years; if they have not legally finalized their divorce, each spouse is prohibited from entering into a new marriage. New marriages that are formed before divorces are finalized are considered void under bigamy laws.

Common Law Marriage
Missouri will honor common law marriages that are formed in states that recognize them, but Missouri itself abolished common law marriage in 1921. Common law marriages that would otherwise be formed in Missouri after 1921 are considered void.

Questions About Annulments? Contact Our Family Attorneys

If you have further questions about annulments or wish to pursue an annulment for your (or a family member's) marriage, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our family attorneys in Camden County MO. Even if a marriage qualifies for an annulment, the process does not occur automatically. You will have to work with a Lake of the Ozarks divorce lawyer to finalize the process.

Contact the Law Offices of Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter, & Welch, P.C. to begin the process today.

Law Offices of Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter, & Welch, P.C.
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