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Geneva family law attorney for annulmentThere are millions of married couples in Illinois and throughout the United States. However, not all marriages last. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Many people may equate a divorce with an annulment or even a legal separation, but they are not the same thing. In a divorce, a couple will seek to dissolve a valid marriage. In an annulment, the marriage is ruled as invalid, as if it never happened. Some people assume that an annulment is easier to obtain than a divorce, but that is not always true. Annulments can have stricter requirements and time limits when compared to a divorce. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is essential that you hire professional legal counsel to fully understand your legal options.    

Declaration of Invalidity 

It is important to note that an annulment is not the same thing as a divorce or legal separation. When married couples legally separate, they live apart but are still technically married in the eyes of the law. An annulment is a way for two people who are in a fraudulent or invalid marriage to legally leave the marriage by essentially voiding it. A marriage can be deemed invalid for various reasons, including if one party was unable to consent to the union due to:

  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Coercion
  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Inability to consummate the marriage
  • Being underage at the time of the wedding

A marriage can only be annulled if the court issues a Declaration of Invalidity. An invalid marriage represents an illegal relationship and is therefore not recognized by the state. 

Posted on in Annulments

Kane County divorce attorneysSometimes, marriages do not work out. However, the same dissolution procedure is not always the best for each situation. If you have been married a very short time, you may be able to annul your marriage instead of having it dissolved. Still, it is important to understand when this is appropriate and when you are better off opting for a standard divorce.

Dissolution of Marriage

A divorce is referred to under Illinois law as a dissolution of marriage, and almost any couple can obtain one. Until recently, Illinois offered fault-based grounds for divorce such as bigamy, but the law was amended in 2015 to remove all grounds except for irreconcilable differences—the standard “no-fault” ground for divorce. The law was also changed to eliminate the requirement for a couple to live apart for six months or more before their divorce could be granted.

Kane County divorce lawyerWhen most couples decide to part ways, they get a divorce, but an extremely small subset instead obtain annulments. However, a marriage may only be annulled if it is void or voidable. The two, despite their obvious similarities, are very different categories, and to state that your marriage falls under one when in fact, it is the other, can cause problems down the line.

Void Marriages

In Illinois, an annulment is referred to as a judgment of invalidity and may be granted to those in void or voidable marriages. It is important to understand that they are not granted in the same manner as a divorce might be. Void marriages, under Illinois law, are those where the union was invalid from the beginning. Illinois law recognizes three major situations in which a marriage qualifies as void: bigamy, consanguinity, and incest. Generally, if a relationship goes against public policy or is generally against the law, it will be held to be void. Criminal charges may also result in extreme circumstances, but this is very rare.

Posted on in Annulments

Geneva family law attorneyFor many years in the United States, there was much talk about the idea of marriage and whether the government had the right to decide the types of couples who should and should not be eligible to get married. The context for that discussion primarily concerned the marital rights of same-sex couples, and a resolution was reached about a year ago when a United States Supreme Court decision recognized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Each state, however, still maintains laws that govern who is and who is not eligible to get married, and, in Illinois, a prohibited marriage is grounds for an annulment.

Unlawful Marriages

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) is a collection of statutes that provide marriage and divorce-related guidelines for the state. According to the IMDMA, a marriage is prohibited if:

Posted on in Annulments

annulment, marriage, relationship, divorce, eligibility for annulment, Illinois divorce lawMany 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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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
  4. 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:

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