When a marriage blows up, divorce is the typical route chosen to dissolve the union. But a second, far-less frequently used option exists: annulment.
Some people know about annulment from The Six Wives of Henry VIII, or The Tudors. Thankfully, for a modern Marylander, things aren’t that complicated ¾ or dangerous. A petition to the courts will suffice, if certain criteria are met.
The critical burden is to prove the marriage was invalid. A marriage is ruled void from the start if either spouse were legally married to someone else, the parties are related by birth or marriage, or either party was legally insane or mentally incompetent when entering into the marriage.
These criteria can be challenged by either of the married partners or by a third person.
A marriage can also be declared void for several other reasons, including consent was procured by fraud, duress or force, either party lacked understanding to consent or the marriage ceremony was performed by someone without legal authority to perform it.
According to the Peoples Law Library of Maryland, the criteria are tough to prove and often a divorce decree will be issued instead of an annulment. But if the court does go ahead and annul the marriage, the decree protects the property rights of both parties. And if any children are involved, the court decree provides for their support.
If you or someone you know if contemplating divorce or have questions about whether a marriage could be annulled, we encourage you to contact the experienced Baltimore divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. We can arrange a consultation to discuss your situation. Call our Hunt Valley, MD office at (443) 589-0150 or you may contact us online.