If you are considering terminating your marriage, you may be wondering if you may qualify for an annulment. An annulment is a legal way to end a marriage and make it as if you had never been married. A North Carolina family law attorney can evaluate if you may qualify for an annulment in North Carolina.
What Is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal procedure that makes a marriage invalid. Unlike divorce, not just any married can get an annulment. In North Carolina, a married couple must be separated for a minimum of one year and one day to obtain an annulment.
North Carolina law specifies that an annulment may only be granted where a marriage is either void or voidable. A marriage may be considered void under limited circumstances:
- If one spouse was already married to someone else (bigamy)
- Where a marriage is between two persons “nearer of kin than first cousins, or between double first cousins” (incest)
- Where one or more individuals to the marriage are underage (under 16)
- Where one party to the marriage is physically impotent at the time of marriage, or
- Where one of the parties to the marriage lacks the capacity or understanding to enter into the marriage; this can also include mental illness or where a person entered into a marriage under duress, intoxicated, etc
A marriage cannot be declared void after parties have lived together and had children after the death of either spouse, except for bigamy.
A marriage might be considered voidable where parties have entered into the marriage under the belief that the female partner is pregnant but separated within 45 days of the union and have remained separated for at least a year unless a child was born to the couple within ten months of their separation.
Effects of Annulment
You are not entitled to any spousal support if a marriage is annulled. This is because no legal union ever exists if one’s marriage is deemed void or voidable. Therefore, neither party is entitled to any benefits that may come from being married. If the spouses acquired any property, it could not be divided as it would in a divorce because there is no marital estate.
However, by law, any children born of a voidable marriage are considered legitimate and the court can still order child support.
How Do You Get an Annulment?
Annulments are typically handled by the North Carolina District Court in your local county within their civil part. However, court action for annulment is not the same as a religious annulment, and you may have to follow a different procedure to obtain a religious annulment. Not every situation qualifies for an annulment, and it is best to speak with a family law attorney about your case. If you have questions about annulling your marriage in North Carolina, please get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.