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Can I get an annulment at the end of a marriage in New York?

For a variety of reasons, some New York State residents who are trying to end a marriage would like to have the marriage deemed invalid and perceived as never legally having happened in the first place. This is an annulment. The desire to move forward with the end of a marriage and have it annulled instead of a simple divorce has certain criteria that must be met. Knowing the justifications for this is imperative before attempting it. Under state law, there are six basic reasons for an annulment. They are: bigamy, an inability to consummate the marriage, incurable insanity, mental incapacity, marriage by force and fraud.

Bigamy is when one of the spouses was legally married to another person at the time of the second marriage. The inability to consummate means that either of the spouses was unable to have sexual intercourse due to an incurable issue at the time the couple was married. Incurable insanity must have been in place for a minimum of five years. If the person who is deemed insane is under the age of 18, the court might order the spouse who is deemed sane provide alimony to the insane spouse if the spouse younger than 18 is the one who wants the annulment. There can be no annulment if the person who is under 18 lived with and had sexual relations with the other person after turning 18 and did so of his or her own volition.

In some cases, due to incapacitation, the spouse might not have comprehended the reality of marriage with its consequences, effects and nature. This can be grounds for annulment. If a spouse got married because of duress or force, the marriage can be annulled. Finally, the most common reason for an annulment is fraud. This happens if the fraud led to deception of a normally competent person and that fraud resulted in gaining the consent to marry. If facts were concealed, this can also be considered fraud. If there was sexual intercourse that indicates forgiveness, it is an absolute defense.

A religious annulment is separate and those who are seeking an annulment on religious grounds need to check into the rules of their religion. Divorce legal issues can be complicated and this is especially true when there is a desire to have a marriage annulled. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in a dispute that might warrant an annulment is key.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Divorce Information & Frequently Asked Questions -- What is an annulment?," accessed on June 6, 2017

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