Sometimes believed to be an alternative to a divorce, an annulment is the means to declare a marriage as null and void. However, getting an annulment may be a little harder than getting a divorce, for various reasons. LoveBondings tells you how to file for an annulment in Texas.
Did You Know?
Though an annulment legally declares a marriage to have technically never existed, the children born in such a marriage are considered to be legitimate by law and are entitled to everything that a child in a divorce is, including child support, inheritance, etc.
For whatever reason, sometimes a marriage just cannot work out. If the reason for ending the marriage seems valid, and if they fulfill all the conditions to get it declared as an invalid marriage, annulment is an option for couples looking for a way out. Annulment may be defined as a legal procedure undertaken in order to declare a marriage as null and void. It is less time-consuming and less expensive than a divorce, which is also a procedure for declaring a marriage as null and void. However, annulled marriages are considered to be invalid from the start, which is what makes them different from a divorce, as marriages which end in a divorce are legally recognized marriages, unlike annulled marriages.
Annulments also have a religious association, as there are religions that traditionally believe in the concept of life-long commitments, to which divorce is not an option. However, a marriage can definitely be declared invalid if it is illegitimately entered into, which is why annulments are acceptable instead.
The grounds for getting an annulment are more or less the same in all the states in America. However, some rules may vary from state to state. Read on for the requirements to file an annulment in the state of Texas.
The Grounds For An Annulment In Texas
Since annulment is a legal process for invalidating a marriage, in Texas, the requirements for an annulment are divided into two basic categories.
- Void Texas Annulment Grounds
- Voidable Texas Annulment Grounds
Void Annulment Grounds include marriage between blood relatives, an incestuous marriage, bigamy or polygamy, etc. Voidable Annulment Grounds include fraud, underage marriages, forced marriages, etc. The next section will explain all the requirements for an annulment in Texas in detail.
In Texas, it is legal to get married if you are above 14 years of age, and if you have legal parental consent as well as a previously obtained marriage license. If one spouse is under 14 years of age and the marriage did not have a court order, it is valid to be considered for annulment immediately. The annulment petition needs to be presented to the court a minimum of 90 days before the under-aged spouse’s birthday, or within 90 days of that marriage, if an annulment is desired.
An under-aged couple is also eligible for annulment if there is no parental consent at the time of marriage. Additionally, if the couple is over 16 years of age but is under 18, a petition for annulment can be filed by a family member, parent or ‘next friend’ of the couple on their behalf. However, this too needs to be done within 90 days of the wedding day, or before the couple turns 18, whichever is sooner. All said and done, being underage cannot guarantee an annulment.
Permanent impotency, or the inability to consummate the marriage is a basis for getting an annulment in Texas. If either husband or wife are unable to perform sexually, and if one didn’t have any knowledge about the other’s impotency before the marriage, the court can declare such a marriage to be invalid. However, there has to be substantial evidence that the couple has not been voluntarily staying together after finding out the truth about one partner’s impotency, for the court to grant an annulment. Impotency can be considered as a kind of marriage fraud, where one party presented themselves to be capable of a healthy sexual relationship just to get the other party to agree to the marriage.
Marriage Under Influence
Though this is not really something to joke about, many movies show us how two strangers meet in Vegas, get drunk, and get married― take the Hangover, for instance. Or What Happens In Vegas. As funny it may seem in the movies, it does happen in real life too, and it isn’t funny at all then. A marriage that takes place when one or both parties are under heavy influence of alcohol or drugs is a grounds for obtaining an annulment, as it is impossible to make rational decisions when in such a state. However, for an annulment, the couple cannot have been voluntarily living together after marriage, and has to make an annulment petition immediately.
Duress/ Force/ Fraud
A forced marriage, or a marriage where one or both parties were forced and threatened into getting married is a basis for an annulment in Texas. However, for the annulment to be granted, the threatened or forced party cannot have been living with the spouse once it became possible to escape the threats, as the knowledge was made public.
Marriage fraud on the lines of not revealing facts that could dramatically affect the marriage is also a basis for annulment. For instance, if a man does not reveal to his wife about his sexual preference until after their wedding, the court can decide to grant an annulment, as this is a big fact that can affect the couple’s relationship to a very great extent. However, if someone demands an annulment because their partner lied to them about their high school boyfriend or girlfriend, it is not significant enough to obtain an annulment.
If one of the two parties involved in a marriage is mentally incompetent to make rational decision, got married without understanding what he or she is doing, then that marriage can be annulled in Texas. Similarly, if your spouse is the one who is mentally incompetent, you can request for an annulment if you were unaware of this situation before marriage. In order to be eligible for an annulment, however, the couple cannot be living together once it is clear that one of them is mentally incompetent.
Divorced Less Than A Month Ago
In Texas, it is illegal to get married within 30 days of a prior divorce. If one spouse finds out that the other got divorced less than 30 days before their marriage, he or she can request an annulment. However, this needs to be done before the first wedding anniversary for an annulment to be granted. Again, like most other conditions, the couple must not be living together once the truth has been found out, in order to be eligible for an annulment.
Married Too Soon
Texas deems marriages that take place within 72 hours of having a marriage license issued as illegal. Hence, a couple who got married within 72 hours of having their marriage license issued can be considered for an annulment instead of a divorce. However, the petition for the annulment needs to be made within 30 days of the marriage.
Incestuous Marriage or Bigamy
Texas bans marriages between blood relatives, (grandparents-grandchildren, parents-children, brother-sister, aunt-nephew, uncle-niece, cousins, etc.) or familial relations like adopted children-parents, stepparents-stepchildren, and hence obtaining an annulment on these grounds is possible. If either of the spouses is already married to someone else who is living, and the other has had no idea of the bigamous situation prior to the marriage, he or she can ask for the marriage to be annulled.
Getting An Annulment
- Apply for annulment by filling in the lawsuit that asks for the marriage between you and your spouse to become void.
- This lawsuit needs to be filed in your county’s district court (the district court in the county where your spouse lives is fine, too). However, do remember that you or your spouse need to be a resident of Texas for a minimum of 6 months to qualify for an annulment, and a resident of your county for a minimum of 90 days.
- Fill in the annulment forms carefully, using your full name, your spouse’s full name, your parents’ full names, and all other details including the date of your marriage, to the date you two stopped living together. If required, include a good reason as to why you are seeking an annulment, and not a divorce.
- Get extra copies of every document, so as to make this more convenient for both you and your spouse.
- In Texas, it is possible to ask for a jury trial for your annulment. If you can convince the judge and the jury with your reason of seeking annulment, you will definitely be granted one, and your marriage will be declared invalid.
The primary difference between an annulment and a divorce is that after an annulment, it is lawfully presumed that the marriage between those two people never existed. However, if you have children, you will follow rules that are similar to a divorce, including child custody, child support, visitation rights, etc.
If a person seeking annulment can fulfill one of the aforementioned conditions, then he or she can get his/her marriage to be declared invalid by law. However, if the person doesn’t fit into any of the above conditions, then getting a divorce is the only option left. As it happens, many people who want to get their marriage annulled may not actually be eligible for it. It is always best to first confirm with a licensed attorney whether one is eligible or not, before applying.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a licensed attorney.