When people consider ending their marriages, they most commonly consider pursuing a divorce. However, Illinois law does provide another option, a declaration of the invalidity of marriage. These declarations are more commonly referred to as annulments. Annulments differ from divorces in that they are a legal acknowledgment that a marriage never occurred because of some defect in the marriage, whereas a divorce is a legal unwinding of a marriage that did happen. That difference makes annulments considerably more difficult to qualify for, but they can have different practical impacts in certain circumstances, which may make an annulment a better option.
Reasons to Get an Annulment
There are a variety of reasons to prefer an annulment over a divorce when one is available. Annulments are a legal declaration of a marriages nonexistence, which some people may prefer on an emotional level. Beyond that, annulments can prevent a person from needing to pay alimony. However, this comes with a caveat that if the other spouse believed at the time that they were entering into a valid marriage then they have the right to collect support like the spouse of a legitimate marriage would have in many circumstances. Additionally, the annulment would not make a difference for purposes of child support because the childs right to collect support from their parents is independent of their parents marital status. Annulments can also be useful to the parents of a minor who has gotten married without their consent. Such a lack of consent would invalidate the marriage, and the parents are allowed to file for an annulment on the minors behalf.
Annulments are considerably more difficult than divorces to qualify for because there needs to be some sort of legal defect with the marriage. However, a variety of legal defects qualify. One of the most common is one partys inability to consent to the marriage. If one spouse was forced into the marriage or was drunk or somehow defrauded, then the marriage may be eligible for annulment. Other potential qualifying issues with the marriage include an inability to consummate it, a minor spouse marrying without parental consent, and an “illegal” marriage. Illegal marriages are those forbidden by law, such as the marriage of close relatives or a bigamous marriage.
Some of these annulment qualifications also come with time limits, but the time limits vary depending on the reason for the annulment. A marriage without consent must be annulled within 90 days, but a marriage that cannot be consummated can be annulled any time within the first year. Marriages of minors without parental consent can be annulled any time until the minor reaches the age of 18, and illegal marriages have no time limit for annulment.
If you believe you may qualify for an annulment and would like to discuss it, reach out to an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer today to learn more about the different options available to you.