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What is an annulment?

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Quick Answer

Annulment is a legal principle that invalidates a marriage, according to USLegal. The effect of an annulment means the marriage never existed in the first place. Reasons for an annulment include coercion, fraud, citizenship, lack of consummation, dishonesty, health issues, financial misrepresentation and religious differences. Laws vary from state to state, but USLegal reveals one key to successfully annul a marriage lies in proving fraudulent activities of one party.

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One type of case cited by USLegal explains one person in the marriage misrepresented the fact that the party was unable to bear children. The person knew of the sterility before the legal contract but failed to inform the other party until after the couple was legally bound to each other. The court, in this case, granted an annulment because one party proved the other person made fraudulent claims before the marriage was legally binding.

Other grounds for annulment revolve around marital status. USLegal states a judge may grant an annulment if both persons were under the legal age of marriage at the time they were married. Annulments may be granted if one person fails to disclose prior marriages, if one person cannot be legally married due to a divorce decree and if someone exhibits temporary insanity or impairment at the time of marriage.

Cornell University explains a judge makes the annulment retroactive to the time the marriage started. A judge voids a marriage upon issuing an annulment decree, according to USLegal.

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