Unlike a divorce, while dissolves a marriage, an annulment makes it as though a couple was never married. Alabama law allows you to annul your marriage only under a few specific sets of circumstances, but if you do meet the requirements, the annulment process is similar to that of a divorce. First, you must petition the court and provide evidence backing up your claims; then you must attend a hearing in front of a judge, who will assess the merits of your case.
Determine the grounds on which you are seeking an annulment. In Alabama, there are only six grounds under which you can get an annulment: If one spouse entered the marriage fraudulently; if one spouse was underage; if one spouse agreed to the marriage under duress; if the relationship is incestuous; if either spouse did not have the mental capacity to agree to marriage; or if one spouse was already married to another person at the time of the marriage.
Prepare a petition for annulment using Alabama's standard form. This form is available through the office of the court clerk, private websites and attorneys. The petition for annulment will ask you to list the names, dates of birth and addresses for each of the spouses and list your grounds for annulment.
File your petition. You will need to submit your petition to the Alabama Unified Family Court in the jurisdiction where either you or your spouse resides. At the time you submit your annulment petition, you will need to pay the court clerk a filing fee.
Serve the annulment petition on your spouse or her attorney. In Alabama, you can serve the petition by delivering it to your spouse's place of residence and leaving it with either the spouse or another adult at the home. Additionally, Alabama allows you to serve the petition using registered mail.
File proof of service with the Alabama Unified Family Court. This written proof may include an affidavit from your process server or a signed receipt indicating that you sent the petition by registered mail.
Provide written evidence supporting your claims. For example, if you are filing for an annulment because you were underage at the time of your marriage, it may be appropriate to provide the court with a copy of your birth certificate.
Locate witnesses to back up our claims. If you are filing on grounds of duress, fraud, mental incapacity or other grounds which may not have written documentation supporting them, you may need to call in witnesses to support your case. If you call witnesses, you will need to issue them subpoenas asking them to appear in court.
Attend the hearing. At your hearing, the judge may ask you to explain the grounds on which you are asking to annul your marriage. After your hearing, the judge will determine whether you meet the legal standard for annulment in Alabama. If the judge decides that you meet state requirements for annulment, she will sign an order voiding your marriage.
Some couples choose to seek professional assistance when preparing the petition, but others choose to prepare the document on their own. If you want to handle your own case, third-party legal document websites offer annulment petition preparation services.
If you do not understand your legal rights, seek professional assistance.
- American Bar Association: Separation, Annulment, and Divorce
- FindLaw: Alabama Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws
- National Paralegal College: Annulment
- Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure: Commencement of Action; Service of Process, Pleadings, Motions, and Orders
- Administrative Office of Courts: Unified Family Court
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images