Though popular belief holds that an annulment is a quick way to end a brief, regrettable marriage, the court does not grant annulments based on duration. An annulment states that a marriage was not valid from the start. Therefore, couples are only eligible for annulment in Virginia under specific circumstances and within a limited time period. If your marriage does not meet the requirements for an annulment, you still can end the marriage through divorce proceedings.
How to Get an Annulment in Virginia
Determine whether an annulment is appropriate for your situation. In Virginia, a marriage may be dissolved by annulment in two cases--void ab initio (the marriage was never legally valid) and voidable marriages (the marriage is eligible to be declared invalid).
Void ab initio marriages in Virginia include marriage between same-sex partners, marriage while still legally married to another person, incestuous marriage or underage marriage. Incestuous unions include marriage between parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, sister and brother, aunt and nephew or uncle and niece. Legal marriage age in Virginia is 16 with parental consent required for children under 18.
Voidable marriage situations include mental or physical incompetence on the part of one or both parties, marriage under duress and marriage under fraudulent circumstances. These circumstances include an undisclosed felony conviction, undisclosed history of prostitution, pregnancy of the wife by someone other than the husband without his knowledge and marriage for the purpose of procuring a Green Card.
Collect appropriate documents, including your marriage license, both spouses’ birth certificates and any documents supporting the claim that the marriage is eligible for annulment. Fill out a a VS-4, a statistical form required in all Virginia divorce cases. This document is available at the circuit court clerk’s office. Court fees vary by locale and situation, but typically include taxes, clerk fees and other expenses that average $80 to $90 (as of March 2010).
In most cases, the marriage is not eligible for annulment after two years. A judge is unlikely to grant an annulment if the marriage produced children. In the case of fraudulent marriage, the victim must seek an annulment immediately upon discovery of the spouse’s deception.
Schedule a hearing through the circuit court clerk's office. If the annulment is contested, each party's legal representative (self or lawyer) must agree on a trial date approved by the judge's office, and some localities require additional paperwork. Once the hearing is scheduled, prepare to present evidence that the marriage is fraudulent or void. Provide at least one corroborating witness who can attest to the invalidity of the marriage.
- Although some choose to represent themselves to save money, a divorce attorney specializing in annulment law makes the process easier and assists in obtaining all required documentation. Many law firms offer annulment and divorce services for less than $200 (as of March 2010).
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