People seek an annulment of marriage for many different reasons, including social or religious. Unlike divorce, which ends a marriage, an annulment voids the marriage entirely, as if the marriage never existed. However, similar to a divorce, a Maryland judge granting an annulment may be called upon to decide on legal issues such as attorney’s fees, alimony, child support and custody and visitation rights.
Legal Grounds for Annulment in Maryland
In Maryland, one of the following reasons for annulment of marriage must be proven:
- Coercion or duress – The spouse seeking annulment must prove that he or she was in great fear of bodily harm at the time of the wedding ceremony.
- Fraud – Fraud is considered valid grounds for annulment provided the misrepresented facts are essential to the health of the marriage partners or their offspring. Lying about finances or personality is not enough to serve as grounds for annulment.
- Mental incompetence – Depending on the circumstances, hiding a known prior mental state may be grounds for annulment.
- Existence of another spouse at the time of marriage would void a current marriage.
- A relationship between the spouses that is closer than first cousin.
- One spouse is underage – Exceptions include if one spouse is 16 or 17 and the minor’s parents consented to the marriage, or the underage spouse is pregnant and 15 and had parental consent.
Maryland Procedure for Annulment
A document called “Complaint for Annulment” must be filed in the circuit court for the county of residence. At least one spouse must have lived in Maryland for at least one year. The complaint should state the date of marriage as well as the city, county and state where the marriage took place. Any children born during the marriage should be listed on the complaint with their names and birthdates. The complaint should state the legal reason being given as grounds for annulment and whether or not the court is being asked to decide about alimony, division of property, and any issues related to children such as custody, child support, and visitation rights.
After the complaint is filed, the other spouse should be served with a copy even if they live out of state. If they cannot be found, the spouse filing the complaint must testify in front of a judge and prove his or her case about why the annulment should be granted. If the evidence is clear that the legal grounds for annulment have been met, the judge will sign an order to annul the marriage.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC Handle Annulment in Maryland
If you need help navigating this difficult transition, the experienced Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC will give your case personal attention to make sure you achieve the best possible outcome. Please contact us online or call 443-589-0150 to arrange a free consultation. Our offices in Hunt Valley, Pikesville, and Towson serve clients throughout Baltimore County, Howard County, Harford County and Carroll County.