Pennsylvania law allows for the annulment of a marriage under certain conditions detailed in 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3305. Not all marriages can be annulled; only marriages that are void by law or that meet the grounds for voidable marriages under the above statute can qualify for annulment.
Divorce vs. Annulment
A divorce decree dissolves a marriage. It declares that the marriage is over. In contrast, an annulment essentially declares that the marriage never existed. It pronounces that the marriage is void.
Pennsylvania recognizes two forms of annulment: voidable marriages and void marriages. Voidable marriages require a court process to nullify, as well as valid grounds to substantiate the claim, which is discussed in the next section.
Void marriages are those that were performed under illegal pretenses and are not legally permitted. Void marriages are completely invalid and therefore require no court process to nullify them. Some of the grounds for void marriages include:
- the spouses are blood relatives;
- one of the spouses was married at the time of the marriage in question; or
- one spouse was mentally incompetent and therefore could not have consented to the marriage properly.
You Must Satisfy One of the Grounds for Annulment
Most couples seeking an annulment have what’s referred to as a voidable marriage. A voidable marriage is one that the Pennsylvania courts will consider annulling if one of the following conditions is present:
- the marriage consent was based on coercion or under duress;
- either of spouses were younger than the age of 16;
- either of the spouses were 16 or 17 years old and didn’t have parental consent;
- the marriage was performed while one or both spouses were intoxicated (If the couple seeks annulment based on the premise of having been influenced by drugs or alcohol, this must be brought to court with 60 days of the marriage in order to qualify.); and
- inability to consummate the marriage (unless impotence was known to the other party prior to the marriage).
How do I get an annulment in Pennsylvania?
If factors are present in your marriage that qualify your marriage as voidable, then your first step will be to consult an annulment attorney. In order to have your marriage successfully annulled, you and your attorney will have to:
- draw up the necessary documents;
- file them with the court;
- gather ample evidence to support your grounds for annulment; and
- present all the facts to the courts.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you qualify for an annulment or want to discuss your options for a marital dissolution, contact a family law attorney in your area.
Free Consultation with an Annulment Attorney
If you would like to talk to an attorney about your options for dissolution, we invite you to contact our annulment attorneys at ARM Lawyers. We have offices in three locations to better serve you. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at our office nearest you: Stroudsburg: 570-257-4509; Palmerton: 484-765-8140; or Bethlehem: 610-849-2788.