How to Be Eligible for an Annulment

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How to Be Eligible for an Annulment

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

To be eligible for an annulment, you need to make sure your reason for wanting it meets the strict guidelines of your state. While the process is similar to divorce, there are some differences. Divorce is a way to end a marriage whereas annulment removes a marriage from its legal existence.

Piece of paper labeled "Annulment" next to a gavel

Most annulments are either voided or voidable marriages. A marriage is void if it wasn't valid to begin with. It's as if it never existed. A marriage that is voidable is one in which the court can deem invalid. Below are the requirements to determine eligibility.

1. Meet your states' legal grounds for annulment.

The legal grounds for annulment vary from state to state. However, there are some reasons which all states have in common. If one party lacked the capacity to marry, the state could annul the marriage. To fall under this reason, a person must either already be married or lack the mental capacity required to enter into a marriage.

2. Determine if you married under fraudulent circumstances.

If you married someone with a false identity, you may have a reason to file for an annulment. If you don't know the true identity of the person you married, you could not agree to that marriage. If you were married under duress, you could also file for an annulment.

3. You must be the innocent spouse in the marriage.

To qualify for an annulment, you must be the innocent spouse in the marriage. Most states do not allow the wrongdoer to be the plaintiff in this type of case. If you marry someone who uses a false identity, they cannot file for an annulment. However, if you learn about their real identity and do not file for a period of time, you are deemed to have agreed to the marriage.

4. You must be a resident of the state.

To file for an annulment, most states require that you are a resident of the county for at least 90 days. This varies from state to state, although some states have much longer residency requirements. Be sure to check the specific rules in your home state to determine the length of time for residency.

5. Each state has a statute of limitations.

Every state has a statute of limitations for someone to file for an annulment. This means that besides having a valid reason for it, you must also file within a certain number of days after the marriage. Sometimes, this can be as little as 30 days after the marriage. In other states, their statute of limitations can go 90 days or more. The statute of limitations is another important thing to keep in mind when determining eligibility of annulment so that you don't miss your chances of successfully completing the process.

Regardless of your reasoning, you need to make sure you file for an annulment before the statute of limitations runs out in your state. Otherwise, to remove yourself from the marriage, you must file for divorce.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.