A divorce effectively terminates a marriage relationship in Connecticut. By contrast, the state will also grant an annulment in very limited circumstances. Annulments treat the marriage as if it never existed and do not involve many of the time consuming issues associated with divorce, such as dividing property and awarding alimony. Your ability to use your spouse's felony conviction as grounds for annulment will depend greatly on when it occurred and whether the information was kept from you.
Overview of Annulment
An annulment may be sought in Connecticut if there is some defect that prevents your marriage from being considered legally valid. If your marriage violates the law, such as a marriage between close relatives or one obtained while already married, this relationship is considered void. Other grounds, such as those based on deceit, make a marriage voidable, which means it is deemed legal until a judge orders the marriage annulled. In Connecticut, marrying a felon is not illegal and does not constitute a void marriage. Further, a conviction occurring during the marriage is not grounds for annulment.
Although a felony conviction is not an express ground for annulment in Connecticut, the state will grant an annulment on grounds of fraud or concealment of an important fact. Both grounds require proof by clear and convincing evidence, and you must demonstrate that the misrepresentation or concealment was regarding a matter essential to the marriage. This means you must offer reliable testimony that had you known the truth, you would never have agreed to marry your spouse. The state has recognized that concealing impotency and feigning love and affection in order to obtain a green card involve issues essential to the marriage.
In cases where your spouse has committed a felony, it will be difficult to convince a judge that an annulment should be granted. The conviction must have occurred before the marriage. If it did not occur before the marriage, it is unlikely you will be able to demonstrate that your spouse either concealed this fact from you or you relied on a statement that he had a clean record. Yet, even if the conviction occurred before the marriage, you face the additional task of proving to the satisfaction of the court that you would not have married your spouse had you known. An example might be if you hold unique religious beliefs that forbid you to marry a convicted felon and this fact was widely known to your spouse at the time of marriage. However, even if you are successful, the court must still conclude that a clean criminal record is essential to the marriage relationship.
To file for an annulment in Connecticut, you must first complete and file a Complaint for Annulment, Form 504.5, with the Superior Court in the district where either you or your spouse reside. The Complaint needs to contain basic information about you and your spouse, details of the marriage, names of any minor children, and reason for the annulment. Once this has been filed, a copy must be delivered to your spouse by sheriff or process server.