Although you hear the term “annulment” used fairly often to mean a quick end to a marriage, the term actually has nothing to do with either the length of the marriage or the annulment proceeding. In fact, there are very narrow exceptions under which annulments can be granted in North Carolina.
First, one must understand how an annulment is different from a divorce. Whereas a divorce is a legal mechanism by which an existing marriage is terminated, an annulment means that the marriage legally never existed. In order to obtain an annulment, one of the following conditions must be met:
- The marriage was between two people nearer of kin than first cousins (or by double first cousins);
- Either of the parties is under the age of 16;
- One or both of the parties to the marriage was already married to another living person at the time of the marriage;
- One or both of the parties was physically impotent at the time of the marriage;
- A party did not possess the ability to understand the nature of the marriage contract; or,
- The marriage was contracted under the representation that the female was pregnant, the parties separate within 45 days of marriage, and no child is born within 10 months of the separation.
A court must then determine if these grounds exist. Even if they do, the parties may have lost the ability to sue if they did not act quickly enough.
Generally, annulments are very difficult to get and individuals will not meet the standards. In that event, the parties must separate for a year and then file for divorce. In order to understand what your rights are, contact experienced family law attorney Jonathan Meek for a consultation.
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