From time to time I get asked the question to explain what an annulment is because this individual desires to have his/her marriage annulled.
Annulments are arguably one of the most misunderstood aspects of family law in the State of Florida. I would submit to you that most retired Circuit Judges never granted one in their entire career on the bench. Annulments are simply not that common.
So what is an annulment? An annulment is a rendering by a Court that a marriage between the parties should have never existed and therefore, should be annulled. Florida has both void and voidable marriages. A void marriage is a marriage that is simply barred by law. In Florida, some examples of a void marriage would be one that was bigamous, the product of incest, or a marriage between minors. These are examples of marriages that are clearly invalid because they are specifically legally forbidden. Voidable marriages differ in that these might otherwise be valid marriages but the circumstances leading to the marriage might deem them voidable. Common examples are the 4:00 a.m. ceremony at a Wedding Chapel when both participants are severely intoxicated and cannot truly consent to the marriage or someone who may be the victim in an immigration fraud matter that resulted in a marriage. These marriages might be valid, in that they are not legally forbidden, but they are voidable due to the specific circumstances surrounding the marriage. The scenarios detailed above are generalized examples and each case will turn on very specific details and facts; therefore, each matter must be reviewed and analyzed on its merits.
A caveat that people must consider is whether the marriage was consummated, meaning did the parties engage in a consensual sexual relationship? If they did, well, an annulment, generally, is not available to either party. In most cases the act of consummating the marriage will eliminate the ability to seek an annulment. A key factor to consider is that this is an area of law that even the most experienced family law practitioners rarely encounter and most Judges have never heard argument in an annulment case. Do not pursue such an action without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. I assure you this is far too complex of an arena, and you need an attorney to review the specific details of your case to determine whether you have the requisite grounds to be granted an annulment. If an annulment is not proper then that same attorney can assist you in a divorce action to properly dissolve your marriage.
If you want guidance in determining whether you have the grounds for an annulment or whether you should pursue a divorce please contact us and let us begin working to help you today.