Sometimes, you don't have to go through a lengthy, stressful, complicated divorce process to end a marriage. If you meet certain requirements, you may be able to get an annulment instead. In some cases, an annulment treats a marriage as legally invalid and therefore void from the very beginning. In other words, it's as if you were never married in the first place. Ohio recognizes several grounds for annulment, making a distinction between void and voidable marriages.
Grounds for Void Marriages
To get an annulment in Ohio on the basis that the marriage is void, your marriage must be prohibited by Ohio law and therefore not legal. Grounds for void marriages include incest, such as you are married to a first cousin or a closer relative, bigamy or polygamy. Void marriages are invalid immediately and do not require a court order to be annulled.
Grounds for Voidable Marriages
Voidable marriages are valid when performed, but can be declared void under certain circumstances. If one or both spouses were under the age of consent at the time of the marriage; the marriage is unconsummated; one spouse was unable to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity or incompetence; or the marriage consent was obtained by force or fraud, the marriage may be voidable. You can waive the grounds for voidable marriages by continuing to live with your spouse after the condition is discovered or resolved.
Annulment Time Frame
To get an annulment in Ohio on the ground that one of the spouses was underage, you must file a petition for annulment within two years of the age of consent unless you are voluntarily cohabiting. If your reason is fraud, you must file your petition within two years of discovering the fraud, unless you are voluntarily cohabiting. To get a marriage annulled on the basis of force or lack of consummation, your time limit is two years from the date of the marriage.
Ohio Annulment Process
You must satisfy the residency requirement to file a petition for annulment in Ohio, by being a resident of Ohio for at least six months immediately before filing your petition and a resident of the county in which you file your complaint for at least 90 days immediately before filing.
To file the petition, ask the clerk's office at your county court for the correct forms. These depend on your specific grounds for the annulment request. Complete and sign the forms and pay the required fee. You will have to complete additional forms if you want to address such issues as child support, spousal support or property division.
After the forms have been filed with the court, they must be served on your spouse. You can mail them or instruct a sheriff or process server to personally serve the papers. Check with the clerk's office for rules about serving papers specific to that court. The court will then schedule a hearing for your annulment case, where all the evidence is considered before an annulment can be granted.