The process of terminating a marriage does not necessarily involve a divorce. Sometimes getting an annulment is preferable to getting a divorce. An annulment does not carry the the same stigma as a divorce in the minds of many people, for example. You must have the proper grounds for an annulment, just as you do with a divorce. Although state laws vary regarding this issue, most states allow annulments if any of the following situations apply.
If you discover that your spouse is already married to someone, then you have grounds for annulling the marriage. Getting a divorce is not necessarily an option. Some states, such as California, do not allow for terminating a bigamous marriage through the divorce process. This is because a bigamous marriage is not considered to be valid marriage in the first place.
If a person misrepresents themselves to you before the marriage, you may have grounds for an annulment. For example, what if you discover that your spouse is a member of a criminal organization? In this instance, you might have decided against the marriage if you had known this information in advance. Another example is when a spouse does not divulge that he has a sexually transmitted disease. The annulment laws recognize the unfairness of a marriage to person who who is not forthcoming about their past, so misrepresentation, or fraud, is a commonly accepted grounds for annulment.
If someone gets married due to coercion or force, then they will generally have the right to seek an annulment. The coercion may include threats of physical violence, such as being forced to marry at gunpoint. A forced marriage is not to be confused with an arranged marriage, where the groom and bride have their spouse chosen for them, but agree to the marriage anyway.
If you were incapacitated at the time of the marriage ceremony and not able to think clearly, then you have solid grounds for obtaining an annulment. Obviously if you have been drinking heavily or are under the influence of drugs, then you cannot give proper consideration about whether to go through with a wedding. You may have only a limited time after the wedding, however, to file for an annulment on these grounds.
Getting a marriage annulled is not a pleasant experience, but may be your best option in some situations. For further information and advice on this issue, talk with a attorney who specializes in family law, such as one from Thomas & Associates, PC.