What Are the Grounds for Annulment in Alabama?
Annulment is a much more comprehensive and severe legal measure as compared to divorce. A divorce dissolves or ends the marriage. An annulment declares that, for all intents and purposes, the marriage never occurred. If a party successfully annuls a marriage, then for the purposes of insurance, inheritance, and all other legal considerations, that marriage never took place. For that reason, the law restricts annulment to those situations in which it is proper to invalidate a marriage, not merely to end it. Continue reading to learn about the grounds for annulment in Alabama. If you are seeking an annulment or a divorce, or if you have other family law concerns, reach out to a knowledgeable and understanding Alabama divorce and family law attorney.
Annulments are Available When the Marriage Was Invalid from the Start
Annulments are not meant to be used where the marriage was legal and appropriate, regardless of how bad the marriage might have been. Adultery, abuse, and other bad conduct do not give rise to annulment. Instead, an annulment is appropriate when there are grounds to declare the marriage was not legal and valid from its inception.
The law and the courts in Alabama restrict annulment to very specific grounds. The grounds for annulment in Alabama include the following:
- Bigamy. Marriage to multiple people is illegal in the State of Alabama. A marriage may be annulled if one party was already married to another person at the time the marriage began. If a married party was in the process of divorce but that divorce was not yet finalized, the party is prohibited from remarrying while the divorce is pending.
- Incest. A marriage may be annulled in Alabama if it is discovered that the parties are blood relatives within a specific statutory decree of relationship. Third cousins twice removed may not give rise to annulment, but if the parties are siblings, an annulment is certainly appropriate.
- Duress/Coercion. Marriage, like other contracts, must be entered into voluntarily and with a sound mind. If one spouse is forced to marry based on threats or coercion, including threats of physical abuse, psychological abuse, or other types of force, then the marriage may be invalidated.
- Underage Marriage. A party may only legally consent to marriage when they reach a certain age. In Alabama, any marriage in which one party was under the age of 16 at the time of marriage may be annulled. If either party seeking to marry is between the ages of 16 and 18, they must have parental consent. If one or both parties are under the age of 18, and no parental consent is given, the marriage may be annulled before that party turns 18. If a spouse was 16 when the marriage began but is now well over 18, the marriage may not be subject to annulment.
- Fraud. A marriage may be annulled when one spouse fraudulently conceals some fact that is considered central to the marriage. Some grounds for annulment based on fraud include: A party conceals that they are pregnant by someone other than their intended spouse; a party reveals for the first time after the marriage begins that they intend to be celibate for their entire life; or a party reveals after marrying that they were only getting married in order to secure American citizenship.
- Concealment of Disease. Alabama courts permit a marriage to be annulled if one party knowingly had an incurable sexually transmitted disease (STD) at the time of marriage and concealed that fact from their spouse. This grounds for annulment is not always available and is more likely to be successful the sooner after entering marriage the annulment is sought.
Annulments can be complicated and require strong proof of the alleged reasons for the annulment. The sooner you move for an annulment after entering the marriage, and the stronger your evidence and arguments, the more likely you are to obtain an annulment from the courts. You are more likely to obtain the annulment you seek with the help of a dedicated Alabama family lawyer.