What is Annulment and Who is Eligible?
Many people have heard of the term “annulment” and understand that it somehow similar to getting a divorce, but different in some mysterious way. Under Illinois law, an annulment is referred to as a “declaration of invalidity of marriage”. Unlike a divorce, an annulment does not simply terminate a marriage; an annulment states that a marriage is not valid and completely dissolves it as if it never existed in the first place.Before you get excited, thinking an annulment is the answer to all of your problems, it is important to recognize that not everyone is eligible for an annulment. There are four reasons for getting an annulment here in Illinois. According to the Illinois General Assembly, those reasons are:
- A party lacked capacity to consent to marriage at the time of the ceremony due to mental incapacity or infirmity or the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances or was induced to enter into a marriage by force, duress, or fraud involving the essentials of the marriage;
- A party lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse and the other party was unaware of the incapacity at the time the marriage was solemnized;
- A party was aged 16 or 17 years old at the time of marriage and did not have the consent of his or her parents/guardians or judicial approval; or
- The marriage is prohibited.
In order to be eligible for annulment, you must file for the court order within the time frames or “statutes of limitations” for each of the four grounds for annulment:
- Mental incapacity, intoxication, etc-no later than 90 days after the petitioner learned what happened;
- Physical incapacity-no later than one year after the petitioner learns about the impotency;
- Youth-Before the underage spouse reaches the legal age of marriage;
- Bigamy-Within three years of the first spouse to die
As you can see, annulment is a very complicated process with many different qualifications and implications. If you are eligible for annulment and wish to file for a judgement of invalidity, make sure to contact an Illinois family law attorney to assist you.