While both divorces and annulments end marriages, annulments actually nullify the marriage. This means that both parties typically regain single status, rather than divorced status. The annulment procedure also establishes the fact that the marriage was not valid to begin with. There are many legal procedures to obtain a marriage annulment.
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Deciding Grounds for Annulment
The first step in the marriage annulment procedure is establishing grounds, or reasons, why the marriage was not valid in the first place. There are many situations in which an annulment may be possible, such as when one or both parties were not old enough to enter a valid legal contract, or one party was already legally married to someone else. If the marriage was not consummated or one of the parties was intoxicated, the couple can file for annulment. Another valid annulment reason is if one party did not disclose a past criminal history or sexually transmitted diseases to the other person. This is considered a fraudulent marriage, according to Women's Divorce.
After the grounds for annulment are established, the couple must file for the annulment. Most people consult with an attorney to handle the filing and court fees. The couple must file the annulment in their state of residence, not the state in which they were married. The other partner must be notified of the proceeding, which he may contest if he chooses. There is no time limit to file an annulment, but most couples file within the first year of the marriage. However, in some cases, such as when one partner discovers her husband is gay, annulments are filed after several years of marriage.
Religious annulments are different than legal annulments, as they cannot legally end a marriage. These types of annulments go through the Catholic church and have their own types of procedures. Typically, one of the married partners submits a request or petition to his local parish priest to begin the annulment process. The petition usually includes a section on the personal reasons behind the failed marriage, a fee, as well as baptismal records, marriage certificate, and the civil divorce or annulment decree. According to St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, the Tribunal office reviews the petition and then accepts it or rejects it. If it is accepted, the annulment is granted. This process is typically completed in a year or less. Most Catholic followers are required to receive an annulment to be able to remarry in the church.
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