A marriage annulment is a way to legally exit an invalid marriage. There are many reasons why a marriage may be deemed invalid, such as impotency, bigamy, or one partner entering the marriage while unable to consent to it due to mental illness, drug or alcohol use, coercion, or being underage.
An annulment is not subject to Illinois divorce laws. It is not a legal separation. Unlike a divorce or legal separation, which are both ways to dismantle a legal marriage, an annulment is a way for a couple in a fraudulent marriage to legally exit the marriage. Annulment in Illinois is subject to certain legal requirements that differ from other states’ marriage annulment requirements.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
When a marriage is legally invalid, it can be annulled through a judgment from the circuit court.
Getting an Annulment in Illinois
To get an annulment in Illinois, an individual must file a Petition for Annulment with the circuit court of the county where she or her partner lives, if they live in different counties. This is not an official state form, but a document a filer must prepare herself or have a lawyer prepare for her. In the document, the filer must provide a sufficient explanation of why the marriage is invalid. The petition is then served to the filer’s spouse, who may agree with it or contest it.
After submitting the petition to the court, the judge examines it to determine whether the filer actually has grounds for an annulment. Valid grounds for annulment in Illinois are:
- One spouse could not consent to the marriage due to being mentally disabled, under duress or under the influence of drugs at the time the marriage was performed.
- One spouse cannot engage in sexual intercourse and the other did not know this at the time of the marriage.
- One spouse was under the age of 18 and did not have parental consent to marry.
- The marriage is illegal due to the couple’s close relation or one spouse being legally married to another person.
If the judge determines that the marriage is invalid, he may annul the marriage with a Judgment of Invalidity.
Understanding Annulment and Illinois Divorce Laws
Understanding Illinois divorce laws is not necessary for getting an annulment in Illinois, but it helps, because there are a few similarities. Both are handled by the circuit court of the county where the individual seeking the annulment or his partner reside.
In many cases, an individual only has a brief window of time following her marriage to have the marriage annulled. The length of this window depends on the reason for the annulment.
If one party entered the marriage under duress, the influence of drugs or while unable to consent due to mental incapacitation, the window is 90 days. For a minor married without parental consent, annulment is an option until the minor turns 18. When an individual seeks an annulment because his partner cannot engage in sexual intercourse, he has one year to annul the marriage. There is no time limit annulling a marriage that’s illegal due to bigamy or the couple being closely related.
Life After a Marriage Annulment
Basically, a marriage annulment is like hitting “reset” on your legal relationship status. Instead of ending a legitimate marriage like a divorce does, dividing the couple’s marital assets and debts and in some cases, enabling them to access certain Social Security benefits, an annulment essentially erases a marriage because it was never legitimate to begin with.
You can remarry after an annulment. Although your marriage was not a legitimate one, you can still have the court divide any assets you jointly own with your partner when your marriage is annulled. If you have children, they have the same rights as children born to any other parent, married or not, and that means the court may create a parenting plan and enforce a child support order for them. Additionally, it may require some form of spousal maintenance when appropriate.
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