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How Do You Get An Annulment in New York

There are three basic ways to end a marriage: (i) divorce; (ii) annulment; or (iii) death.  Of these three methods, the one that is least used and indeed, in rarely used, is an annulment.  In general terms, it is much harder to get an annulment than it is to get a divorce.  This is how you can get an annulment.

Similar to getting a divorce, to start an annulment, you must file a Summons and a Complaint.  The Complaint will state the basic legal reasons why you are seeking an annulment.  You can also request both an annulment and a divorce.  In this manner, if for some reason you do not qualify for an annulment, at least you can get a divorce.

To get an annulment, you have to satisfy certain legal requirements.  There are two general types of annulments.  First type is that your annulment was “void at its inception.”  This means that the marriage technically never happened and that you are not really “married.”  Despite this fact, it is wise to have a court grant you an annulment declaring that your marriage was void from its inception.

The second type of annulment means that your marriage is “valid”, but, due to certain facts you can. There are three categories of “marriages” that are void from their inception.  This means that the marriage technically never happened and that you are not really “married.”

Despite this fact, it is wise to have a court grant you an annulment declaring that your marriage was void from its inception.

Void at its inception:

As stated, if your “marriage” fits into one of the following categories, then it is void at its inception, and you were never really “married”:

  1. Incestuous marriage: A marriage between very close relatives, for example: a Father and Daughter, Brother and Sister, Aunt and Nephew are all examples of incestuous marriages.  Not only are these marriages illegal, a court can also order a fine or even a prison term for parties that enter into an incestuous marriage.
  2. Still married to your former spouse or married to more than one spouse: New York does not recognize any bigamous marriages.  You can only be married to one person at a time.  Sometimes, one spouse will “honestly” believe that their divorce was finalized and get married, however, this is still considered a bigamous marriage.  If you are married and you filed for a divorce, you have to wait until your Judgment of Divorce is signed before you get re-married.
  3. Married by someone not authorized to do so. There is an authorized list of people who can perform a marriage.  This list includes, but is not limited to, a religious leader, a leader of the Society for Ethical Culture, mayors, some magistrate, and judges.  If your marriage was performed by someone who was not authorized to do so, you are not married.  In those situations, if you were “married” by an unauthorized person, your marriage, like the other two in this category is invalid from the start of the so-called marriage.

Other types of marriages that can be annulled:

Unlike the three categories stated above, if you fall into one of these categories, your marriage is “valid” until an annulment is granted.

  1. Age of consent: If both parties are over 18 years of age, then the age of consent has been met.  In New York, no one under the age of 17 years old can get married.  If one of the parties is 17 years of age, then a judge’s approval is required for them to get married.  If later on, you want to have the marriage annulled because you were 17 at the time you got married, you can still request for it to be annulled.
  2. Incapable of consent. If, at the time of the marriage, the person could not mentally understand that he/she was getting married, that marriage may be able to be annulled.
  3. Incapable of entering into marriage due to physical cause. If, at the time of the marriage, the person was unable to have sexual relations, then the marriage may be able to be annulled.
  4. Marriage was due to force, duress or fraud. If the marriage was brought about due to force, duress or fraud, then it may be annulled.
  5. Incurable mental illness for five or more years. This category does not require that the mental illness exhibited at the time of the marriage.  Anytime after the marriages, if one spouse develops an incurable mental illness for five years or more, then the marriage may be annulled.

If you are granted an annulment, your marriage remains in the State’s record.  If you had children, an annulment does not affect their status, they are still legitimate.  As with a divorce, if you are granted an annulment, the court is still empowered to make awards of child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and equitable distribution.

If you considering a divorce or an annulment, then you need to hire an experienced divorce attorney.  David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office have helped numerous individuals in all areas of matrimonial and family law and helped several clients seeking an annulment. If you need an attorney to represent you, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office today at 631-239-1702 or email david@dbnylaw.com.  The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport and Garden City.

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