An annulment (or nullity of marriage) is when a court determines a marriage is NOT legally valid. After an annulment is granted, it is as if a marriage never happened because it was never legal. A marriage is NEVER legally valid when it is:
- Incestuous: The people who are married are close blood relatives; or
- Bigamous: One of the spouses is married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
A marriage MAY NOT be legally valid when:
- Age: One of the spouses was under 18 years old at the time of the marriage.
- Prior existing marriage: Either party was already legally married. This is different from bigamy (which is automatically illegal) because, in this case, the marriage took place after the former spouse or domestic partner was absent for 5 years and not known to be living or generally thought to be dead.
- Unsound mind: A spouse was of unsound mind or unable to understand the nature of the marriage, including the obligations that come with it.
- Fraud: Either party got married as a result of fraud. The fraud must have been about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage. Some examples are marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.
- Force: A spouse consented to getting married as a result of force.
- Physical incapacity: The parties got married while one of them was physically incapacitated (basically, it means that one of the spouses was physically incapable of consummating the relationship) and the incapacity continues and appears to be incurable.