Divorce and Annulments

Today, let’s talk about annulments and the difference between a divorce and an annulment. It’s important to know that a divorce ends a valid marriage while an annulment ends an invalid marriage.

            So, probably right now, you’re wondering, “well wait a minute, what’s an invalid marriage?” and I’m going to go through the eight reasons Virginia Code sites making your marriage an invalid marriage.  But before I do that, let me comment on one little point, if you wake up the morning after or the week after you get married and you decide “That was a terrible idea”, that doesn’t qualify you for an annulment.

            While you’ve probably seen movies where 24 hours later, in Vegas, they get an annulment.  But here in Virginia, you qualify for an annulment if you meet one of the eight (8) reasons your marriage can be deemed invalid. It’s also important to note, if you do discover a reason that makes your marriage invalid, you must file within two years of your marriage to successfully achieve an annulment.  So time does matter, but it’s not the material factor.

            So let’s review those eight reasons why your marriage could be deemed invalid and thus making you qualify for an annulments rather than having to get a divorce.

I’ve written these down from the Virginia Code and I’m going to read them, so I don’t forget any.

1. Bigamy.  Bigamy is when your spouse is already married to someone when they marry you.  Unfortunately that has happed to several of my clients

2. Incest.  Incest is when you are related to your spouse by blood, half-blood, or adoption.

3. Fraud. Fraud is when you are deceived into marrying someone by an intentional misrepresentation that they did to you and you relied on that when you married and that has caused you damage and pain.

4. Impotence.  If your spouse or you knew that you were impotent or unable to reproduce at the time of marriage and kept that from the other spouse, you may qualify to have your marriage invalid.

5. Underage.  That is when you marry someone or they marry you and you’re under 18 at the time you were married.

6.  If a spouse was a prostitute or felon and you were unaware they were a prostitute or felon at the time of marriage, they kept that from you, you discovered it later that is a reason to declare your marriage invalid.

7.  If your spouse had a child with another person within 10 months of marrying you.

8. Duress. That is when you agree to marriage because you’re concerned about consequences, or fear an outcome so your married the person anyway.  That duress could be construed to make your marriage invalid.

I look forward to meeting with you and discussing these eight reasons and seeing if your specific facts situation qualifies you for an annulment. If not, we’ll happily assist you, if necessary, with your divorce.

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg