There are many misconceptions (no pun intended) about annulments in North Carolina. For example, if a couple separates shortly after the marriage, the brief length of the marriage does not make the parties automatically eligible for an annulment. North Carolina has no such thing as an escape hatch based on time. You will want to work closely with a North Carolina family law attorney if you want to end your marriage through an annulment or a divorce. Annulments are particularly difficult to achieve. Let’s explore the question of how long you can be married and still get an annulment in North Carolina.
What Is an Annulment in Family Law?
First of all, an annulment is not a divorce. An annulment is a legal pronouncement that the marriage is canceled as if it never took place. Although North Carolina is a no-fault state for purposes of getting a divorce, you can only get a legal annulment in very limited circumstances.
Many people mistakenly believe that if the marriage does not get consummated, the parties can get an annulment. There is no such rule in North Carolina.
Grounds for Annulment in North Carolina
The grounds for annulment in North Carolina include some void marriages, voidable marriages, and other grounds. A voidable marriage is valid until you get it annulled. A void marriage, on the other hand, was never a valid marriage, even though it might have looked like one.
You cannot legally marry someone who is already married to someone else. If you go through a marriage ceremony and later find out that your spouse already has a living spouse, the marriage is void. It is not necessary to get an annulment because, legally speaking, your marriage did not happen. Some people pursue an annulment in the situation to avoid legal entanglements in the future.
Unlike a void marriage, if you are in a voidable marriage, you are actually married. You will remain married unless you or your spouse file for a divorce or an annulment. Here are some examples of voidable marriages in North Carolina:
- Force, duress, or trickery. If you entered into the marriage for any of these reasons, you did not consent to marry. You should file for an annulment right away because staying in the relationship will raise credibility issues about your claims.
- Being under age. The age of consent to marry in North Carolina is 16 years. If one or both of the spouses are under 16, their parents did not consent, and there was no pregnancy involved, either spouse can file for an annulment. If the baby is no longer surviving, either party can request an annulment.
- Incestuous marriages are avoidable in North Carolina. If the two spouses are related more closely than first cousins or if they are double first cousins (the children of two siblings whose spouses are siblings), they have a voidable marriage that can be grounds for an annulment.
Another ground for annulment in North Carolina is misrepresentation of pregnancy. This is one ground for which there are deadlines. The parties have 45 days to separate after entering into marriage because someone represented that the female was pregnant. The parties must live apart from each other for one year. If no child is born to the spouses within 10 months of when they separated, they can request an annulment through a family law attorney.
Contact Our New Bern Family Law Attorney
Annulments tend to be more challenging than divorces. A North Carolina family law attorney can evaluate your situation, let you know if you have grounds to file for an annulment, and handle the case for you. Contact our office today for help with your case, we gladly offer a free consultation.