Pursuing Annulments in North Carolina
There are many ways to legally enforce the dissolution of a marriage. Divorce and legal separation are among the most widely used because both can be pursued by almost anyone. However, in rare cases, an annulment may be the best way to invalidate a civil union. Unlike a divorce or legal separation, an annulment is a civil court proceeding that essentially erases a marriage and—if successful—will legally make it seem as though the marriage never existed.
The two types of annulments in North Carolina are “voidable marriage” and “void marriage.” The grounds for an annulment in North Carolina are very strict and cannot be used as an alternative to divorce. However, in specific circumstances, an annulment can be used to void your marriage as long as your situation meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Incest – The husband and wife are more closely related than first cousins
- False pretenses – The marriage occurred under the belief of an upcoming pregnancy, but a spousal separation took place within 45 days and no child was born within 10 months of separation.
- Impotence – One of the spouses was clinically diagnosed as impotent at the time of marriage
- Insanity – One of the spouses was “not of sound mind” during the marriage
- Marriage to a minor – One of the spouses was younger than 16 at the time of marriage
These circumstances are considered a “voidable marriage.” However, it is important to exercise caution because “voidable marriages” can be made legal through the actions of the husband and the wife if they cohabitate and have a child. In this case, the spouses would need to file for a divorce. The only “void marriage” in North Carolina is a bigamous marriage, or a marriage that took place while one spouse was already married. “Void marriages” are never made valid by the actions of the spouses.
Talk to an Annulment Lawyer
Annulments can be complicated because of the limited circumstances that allow you to file a claim. If you are pursuing an annulment but need guidance or legal help through the process, our attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC, may be able to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our Raleigh offices at (919) 833-1040 to discuss your case.