Getting married is easy, sometimes so easy that we move too quickly and make a mistake. That mistake doesn't have to follow a person for life. While divorce is always an option in Illinois, an annulment may be more appropriate in certain circumstances. An annulment completely wipes your marital slate clean -- it is like the marriage never happened. If you meet the criteria, an annulment may be the perfect option to end a marriage that was ill-advised in the first place.
Meet the residency requirements by living in Illinois. According to the law in Illinois, you or your spouse has to have resided in the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of your annulment petition. In addition, the county where you intend to file may also have additional residency requirements. Check your county website or with a law library to determine if you have lived in your residence long enough to get your marriage annulled. If you have not lived either in Illinois or your county long enough to meet the requirements, your spouse may file the petition if he or she meets the conditions. If one of the parties in the annulment is underage, the parent may file the petition for annulment if the minor child married without consent.
Decide on the grounds that you want to use to get your marriage annulled. There are four grounds for annulment in Illinois: lack of capacity, lack of marital consummation, underage marriage and prohibited marriages. People who were incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, mental illness or retardation can apply for an annulment based on lack of capacity if they file for annulment within 90 days of marriage. For inability to consummate the marriage, the petition to annul the marriage should be filed within one year of finding out about the spouse's lack of ability to consummate. An underage marriage must be annulled before the underage party reaches the age of majority -- 18 years old. A prohibited marriage, such as a same-sex marriage or an incestuous marriage -- is automatically null and no petition needs to be filed.
Locate your court. Annulment and divorce petitions are heard in county family or Circuit Courts. Find the court in your area and call ahead to make certain you have selected the correct court.
Find and complete the petition for annulment of your marriage in Illinois. The forms used for this petition can be found in several places. First, check the appropriate court's website -- divorce and annulment forms can often be downloaded. If the forms are not available online, check with the court clerk. The court clerk can often supply the forms you need or direct you to a source for the forms. Finally, check the local law libraries. Most petitions are fairly straightforward -- you will provide your name, date of marriage and reason for annulment. If you have trouble filling out the form, check with your local library or Legal Aid society.
File the petition and pay the filing fees. Fees vary by jurisdiction. Your court clerk can give you information on the fees in your court. If you cannot afford the filing fee, ask for a fee waiver. Complete and file the waiver along with your annulment petition. If the judge determines that you meet the guidelines, you may have your filing fee waived. There is no specific waiting period to get an annulment in Illinois. Your annulment will be granted once the judge has read your petition and determined that your marriage is null and void.