Divorce and annulment ultimately deliver the same result: the dissolving of a marriage. When couples divorce, their relationship is recognized. That is, they were married. Annulment is different: it essentially “erases” the marriage. Legally, it is as if the union never happened.
Why do people seek annulments and when are they a viable option?
First, in Illinois, there is no such action as an “annulment.” There is, however, a “judgment of invalidity.” In order to succeed on a Petition for Invalidity, a person must file and prove one of the following:
- No capacity to consent. The spouse did not have the capacity to consent to marriage because of mental health problems or difficulties and/or was under the influence of intoxicating drugs.
- Spouse A was “tricked” or coerced into marrying Spouse B. The fraud must affect the core of the relationship; for example, if Spouse B never intended to live with Spouse A and only married to stay in the country, then this is reason for a judgment of invalidity. On the other hand, if Spouse B lied and said he/she was wealthy, that reason is not in and of itself and adequate ground.
- Impotency: Spouse B could not consummate the marriage and did not disclose this to Spouse A.
- Illegal Marriage: Spouse B is already and currently legally married.
- Underage Spouse: Spouse B was under the legal age to be married and did not obtain permission from the appropriate party (e.g. judge, guardian, parent).
The spouse wishing to invalidate the marriage must comply with statutes of limitation; for example, if the issue is incapacity or fraud, the spouse must file no later than 90 days after learning of the situation. If the petitioner is seeking a judgment based on physical incapacity, then he or she has one year after learning of impotency.
It is critical that petitioners understand their obligations in terms of filing. This, and the rarity of such judgments in Illinois, consulting an experienced attorney is in your best interests. Contact Kiswani Law, P.C. for your free consultation and how we can help you determine the best way to move forward.