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Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Monday, January 13, 2020

Can My Spouse File for an Annulment Without My Consent?

As with other court actions, a spouse does not need the other spouse’s consent to petition the court for an annulment. However, you have the right to object to an annulment if you disagree with the allegations in the annulment petition. A New York family attorney can review your options for an annulment and help you decide what is best for you, given your unique circumstances.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is a legal procedure for voiding a marriage. The marriage is “erased” legally when it is annulled. In other words, from a legal perspective, a marriage that is annulled never occurred or existed.

The grounds for an annulment may vary slightly by state. In New York, the grounds for an annulment are:

  • Lack of mental capacity to consent to the marriage;
  • Failing to obtain written consent of both parents for an individual under 18 years of age at the time of the marriage (or court approval for anyone under 16 years of age);
  • Hiding the fact that an individual lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage;
  • An incurable mental illness that has lasted for five years or longer; and,

Consent for the marriage was obtained through duress, force, or fraud, such as marrying someone to obtain a green card or threatening harm.

Some marriages are void because they were not legally binding marriages for statutory reasons. For example, an incestuous marriage is void, as is a marriage that is officiated by a person that is not authorized to officiate marriages in the State of New York. A marriage is also void by statute if one party was married previously and the former spouse is still living and the marriage was not annulled or ended through divorce.

How Do I Annul My Marriage in New York?

Your marriage must fall within one of the grounds for an annulment. Because you are alleging that the marriage should be void, it is up to you to file an action with the court and prove the allegations.

For example, if you allege that your spouse married you without telling you that he could not consummate the marriage, it would be up to you to prove that you did not know he had a physical impairment that prevents him from engaging in sexual intercourse. Annulments based on fraud, force, or duress can be the most difficult to prove.

Do I Need a New York Family Attorney to Help With an Annulment?

An annulment is not an easy way out of marriage. Proving the grounds for annulment can be difficult.

If your spouse files an annulment action, you have the right to contest the annulment. There may be very good reasons for contesting an annulment. If your marriage is void, you are not entitled to spousal support or a division of assets. Therefore, your spouse may attempt to annul the marriage to avoid paying support or dividing property.

Whether you are petitioning the court for an annulment or responding to an annulment, contact Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C. to speak with a New York divorce lawyer today to discuss your legal rights and options.


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