Maryland's Annulment Laws

By Bernadette A. Safrath

An annulment is an alternative to divorce and available in very limited circumstances. In Maryland, the grounds for annulment fall into two categories, either void or voidable. A voidable marriage is one that is valid when it takes place, but can be declared invalid by the court. A void marriage is one that is illegal at the time it takes place and can never be made valid.

An annulment is an alternative to divorce and available in very limited circumstances. In Maryland, the grounds for annulment fall into two categories, either void or voidable. A voidable marriage is one that is valid when it takes place, but can be declared invalid by the court. A void marriage is one that is illegal at the time it takes place and can never be made valid.

Lack of Consent

Marriage is a contract and, as such, both spouses must be able to fully consent to the marriage for it to be valid. Marriages in which there is a lack of consent for any reason are considered voidable and can be annulled by the court. Maryland recognizes two grounds for annulment involving consent: First, a person with a mental disability at the time of the marriage, whether temporary or permanent, cannot validly consent. An example of a temporary disability is intoxication. If one or both spouses were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, affecting their ability to rationally consent, the marriage is voidable and can be annulled. Second, if a marriage is entered into under duress, it is voidable and can be annulled. Duress means that a spouse was forced into the marriage because of threats made against her by her spouse or spouse's loved ones.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Fraud

When a spouse consents to marriage, but later learns the other spouse deceived her to obtain her consent, the marriage is voidable and can be annulled on grounds of fraud. For example, a man who does not disclose he was previously convicted of a crime or was married in the past -- even if divorced -- may be fraudulently obtaining a woman's consent to marriage. If a woman tells a man she is pregnant when she isn't in order to convince him to marry her, the marriage is based on fraud.

Impotence

Impotence is the inability to have sexual intercourse. In Maryland, if one spouse is unable to perform and satisfy the other spouse's physical needs, the spouses can file for an annulment. A marriage in which one spouse is impotent is considered voidable. The court will grant an annulment only if the filing spouse can prove two things: First, the spouse must present a diagnosis from a physician. Second, the spouse must establish she was not aware of her spouse's impotence at the time the marriage took place.

Blood-Related Spouses

Maryland forbids any marriage involving consanguinity. This means that people who are related by blood cannot get married. Because such marriages are against the law, they are void and considered invalid the moment they occur. Although the marriage is never considered legal, it must formally be annulled by a court to be terminated.

Multiple Spouses

You can only be married to one person at a time. If you have more than one spouse, you are committing bigamy. In Maryland, any subsequent marriage prior to the termination of a first marriage is considered void. Bigamy is a ground for annulment in Maryland. As with marriages of consanguinity, a bigamous marriage is not legal, but requires formal termination by the court.

Underage Spouse

Age 18 is the age of majority in Maryland -- and the age when a person can enter into a contract. Because marriage is a contract, a spouse must be at least 18 years old to consent. If one or both spouses is between the ages of 15 and 17, a parent must consent to the marriage or the wife must have given birth to a child. If a spouse is 15 to 17 years old and neither of these conditions occurred, the marriage is void and can be annulled. A child under the age of 15 cannot be married at all.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Is the Time Limit for Getting an Annulment in the State of Nevada?

References

Related articles

South Carolina Annulment Laws

Certain marriages are prohibited by law in South Carolina. Couples that enter into these illegal relationships can petition the court at any time for an annulment to declare the marriage void. Unlike divorce, annulments do not involve the resolution of often complex and contested spousal support and property matters. Instead, the marriage is erased and the parties are restored to a legal and financial position as if the relationship never existed.

Maryland Law Concerning Annulments

Divorce laws can be complicated and difficult to understand, but annulment laws are often even worse. This is especially true in Maryland. A marriage is only annullable if certain circumstances existed before your marriage, or at the time you married, that means you couldn’t or shouldn’t have wed. Depending on what that circumstance was, sometimes Maryland doesn’t even require you to take legal action to undo your mistake.

Annulment vs. Divorce in the State of Illinois

Couples who choose to end their marriages do so for a number of reasons. In Illinois, as in other states, spouses have the option of ending their marriage by divorce or annulment. In a divorce, the Illinois court orders the dissolution of a valid marriage. However, when a marriage is annulled in Illinois, the marriage is invalidated and treated as if it never took place.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Requirements for an Annulment in Massachusetts

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t annul your marriage just because it was fleeting in duration. Each ...

Tennessee Laws on Annulments

Both a divorce and an annulment result in the dissolution of a marriage in Tennessee, but an annulment is a very ...

Missouri Annulment Information

An annulment in Missouri is known as a "declaration of invalidity of marriage." Despite Missouri's unique ...

Annulment Requirements

Divorce constitutes an end to a marriage, while an annulment deems a marriage never existed. Over time, however, the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED