Tennessee Laws on Annulments

By Jim Thomas

Both a divorce and an annulment result in the dissolution of a marriage in Tennessee, but an annulment is a very specific form of terminating a marriage. You can have a marriage annulled in Tennessee if you prove the marriage is void or voidable, meaning the marriage is either against public policy or one of the spouses is a "victim" tricked into the marriage.

Annulment Vs. Divorce

A divorce severs marital ties between two parties. Divorces in Tennessee are either no-fault or fault-based. A no-fault divorce can be obtained on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or when the parties have lived separately for two years and don't have minor children. There is a long list of fault grounds for divorce, including impotence, imprisonment for a felony, alcohol or drug addiction, bigamy, cruel and inhumane treatment, abandonment or making life "intolerable." An annulment not only dissolves the marriage, it treats the marriage as if never existed.

Void Marriage Annulment

In general, a marriage is void for three reasons in Tennessee. If a spouse is homosexual, the marriage may be annulled. An incestuous marriage also may be voided -- in Tennessee, you can't marry close biological relatives, such as parents, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. In addition, you can't marry your adoptive parents, adopted children or half brothers and sisters. Public policy requires that you can't get married if you are already married to another person as bigamous marriages are illegal.

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Voidable Marriage Annulment

If a party to a marriage is considered a victim, she can ask the court for an annulment based on the theory she did not properly consent to the marriage. If it turns out your spouse is incurably insane, forced you to marry him or committed fraud by misrepresenting himself, the marriage may be deemed voidable by a Tennessee court and annulled. Other grounds include marrying someone who is underage without the consent of the minor's parents or a court.


In Tennessee, you can request the custody of your children if your marriage is annulled, but not alimony. However, if there are legal grounds for divorce that are also legal grounds for annulment -- impotence and bigamy are two examples -- you can file for divorce in order to obtain alimony and an equitable split of the marital property. On the other hand, an annulment requires the court to restore property to the parties who owned it prior to the voidable marriage. Although annulments in the past resulted in children from a void marriage becoming bastards in the eyes of the law, more enlightened statutes in both Tennessee and elsewhere now treat the children as legitimate.

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Maryland's Annulment Laws


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Requirements for an Annulment in Massachusetts

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t annul your marriage just because it was fleeting in duration. Each state’s legislative code sets specific guidelines for what constitutes an annullable marriage. In Massachusetts, the length of the marriage is not included in these guidelines. The state is stingy about granting annulments, and spouses often find it easier to file for a no-fault divorce instead. If your marriage qualifies, you would have to prove to the court one of seven grounds for annulment. This is sometimes difficult, whereas you don’t have to prove any ground to get a no-fault divorce.

Annulment Fraud & California Law

Not all marriages are valid in California. If one spouse uses fraud to induce the other to marry, an annulment may be granted by the court. Annulments have the effect of restoring the parties to a position as if the marriage never occurred. However, due to the availability of divorces, annulments are applicable only in limited circumstances and require more proof than is typically needed to dissolve a marriage.

Louisiana Annulment Statute

If a marriage does not meet the requirements of Louisiana law, the marriage may be null and void. With an annulment, it is essentially as if the marriage never existed. Divorce relief, such as alimony and child support, is only awarded if the couple actually and reasonably believed the marriage was valid.

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