You’ve seen it in movies for years: people go to Las Vegas for a weekend of fun, get intoxicated, and wake up to find they got married to a complete stranger! Luckily, there is always a narrative device that allows the protagonist a way out of this messy situation: an annulment.
This has created a widely-held misconception that annulments are a convenient way for anyone to get out of a short marriage. Unfortunately, life isn’t like the movies, and people are in for a rude awakening if they are relying on an annulment.
Annulments are Not Common
An annulment is an order from a court that voids a marriage—as if the marriage never existed. Annulments are not common at all. In fact, annulments are not magic erasers that are available to quickly dissolve an ill-advised marriage. In North Carolina, there are specific and limited circumstances in which a couple can obtain an annulment. In other words, evidence that a couple made a mistake or regrets getting married does not qualify them for an annulment in this state; nor does evidence of a very short marriage have any bearing on the ability to get an annulment.
A court can annul a marriage when the marriage itself is legally voidable. This means that there is some indicia of impropriety or that the marriage defied public policy or morality. The specific conditions that qualify a couple for an annulment in North Carolina include when:
- Spouses are “nearer of kin than first cousins, or between double first cousins”;
- Either spouse is under the age of sixteen;
- A spouse is still married to another person at the time of the marriage;
- A spouse is impotent;
- A spouse is “at the time incapable of contracting from want of will or understanding”—in other words he or she lacks the capacity to understand to understand marriage; and
- If a man has married a woman on her representation that she is pregnant, when she actually was not pregnant, the couple separates with 45 days, and a baby is not born within ten months
Contact New Direction Family Law
If one of the aforementioned circumstances applies to you and you are interested in an annulment, contact New Direction Family Law for legal assistance. It is far more likely that these conditions do not apply to you and your spouse, which means that you will likely have to separate for a full year before obtaining an absolute divorce. We can help you with that as well. Our attorneys are smart, effective professionals who know the law. We want to get things right and to help you move forward. We proudly serve Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us online at our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law