Annulment Florida

Judge's gavel in courtroom

Annulment is a constitutional concept that is widely misunderstood, in part because popular culture and religion have offered conflicting and often erroneous interpretations of what an annulment signifies in the context of domestic relations.

The Florida Courts of Appeals have recognized several “grounds,” or reasons, for which you can obtain an annulment of your marriage. Invalid marriages and marriages that are voidable can both be annulled; however, while all void marriages can be annulled, the same does not apply to every voidable marriage.

Annulment Florida

Civil annulments are discussed in this article rather than religious annulments, which can only be issued by a church or a member of the clergy.

Annulments and divorces are similar in that they both make a judgement about the marital status of the parties involved.

Divorce, on the other hand, terminates an already existing, lawful marriage, whereas annulment simply says that what everyone thought was a marriage was never actually a marriage at all, which is a significant distinction.

An annulled marriage did not lawfully exist as it was never legally recognized. The state of Florida is unique as its statutes don’t directly address annulment.

Over the years, Florida’s appellate (higher level) courts have issued binding decisions on annulment, which are referred to as “precedent” decisions.

These decisions serve as the foundation of Florida’s annulment statute. It is possible to obtain an annulment in Florida, albeit it is difficult and unusual to do so.

The Grounds of Annulment in Florida

The Florida Courts of Appeals have recognized several “grounds,” or reasons, for which you can obtain an annulment of your marriage.

This distinction between “void” marriages (marriages that were invalid from the beginning) and “voidable” marriages (marriages that were not necessarily wrong from the beginning) is critical to understanding Florida’s divorce laws.

Invalid marriages and marriages that are voidable can both be annulled; however, while all void marriages can be annulled, not every voidable marriage can be annulled.

An invalid marriage, on the other hand, cannot be rehabilitated or made lawful, no matter how much the pair wishes it to be so.

The Following Are the Criteria for Annulment:

  • The marriage is void because one spouse is legally married to more than one person.
  • because it is bigamous (a spouse is legally married to more than one person).
  • because it is incestuous (the couple is closely related by blood or marriage).
  • because the union consists of two partners of the same sex or two underage people, or
  • because one spouse is permanently mentally ill and incapable of consenting to marriage. Even though these marriages are null and void by their very nature, it is nonetheless recommended that you seek an annulment.
  • Since one of the spouses did not have the capacity (ability) to consent to marriage.
  • because that spouse was suffering from a significant but temporary mental illness or.
  • was under the influence of intoxicating drinks or drugs when the ceremony took place, the marriage is voidable.
  • This marriage is voidable because one of the spouses tricked the other spouse into entering the marriage using deceptive or fraudulent acts or statements.
  • Not all misrepresentations will be eligible for compensation. A qualifying fraud goes to the heart of the marital relationship and should be prosecuted. For instance, if Spouse A lied about having a terrible condition such as tuberculosis, such falsehood would not be sufficient grounds for annulment of the marriage.
  • It is possible to obtain an annulment if Spouse A married Spouse B but had no intention of living with Spouse B as a married couple once the marriage was consummated.
  • The marriage is voidable because one or both parties entered the marriage only because they were coerced into doing so by another party (defined as extreme coercion or possibly even force).
  • The marriage is voidable because one of the spouses is under the age of majority and entered into the marriage without the agreement of a parent or guardian.
  • This marriage is voidable because one spouse is impotent and the other spouse was unaware of this fact when they were married.
  • One or both parties went into the marriage as a joke, and therefore, the marriage is null and voidable.

Florida law provides that marriages that are voidable due to fraud can be “ratified” (made lawful) by the simple act of sexual consummation after the injured party becomes aware of the fraud, coercion, or temporary incapacity that led to the marriage.

When a spouse marries while under the influence of alcohol but subsequently engages in sexual contact with the other spouse after “sobering up,” the marriage cannot be canceled under these circumstances.

If the offended spouse chooses to engage in a sexual connection despite being aware of the facts, the wronged spouse effectively waives any right to file a complaint against the other spouse.

3D illustration of "ANNULMENT"

How Do I Obtain an Annulment in Florida?

It is necessary to obtain a court order to officially annul a voidable marriage, and it is suggested that you obtain one even in the case of a void marriage.

Florida’s circuit courts, which sit in “chancery” (equity) and have the authority to consider annulment cases because they have equitable (corrective) powers, are the only places where annulment papers can be filed.

Since annulment proceedings are governed by Florida’s family law norms of procedure, it is essential that you get acquainted with and adhere to them.

You must first submit and serve a petition for annulment before you can proceed with a divorce petition. The petition must explain why the marriage is void or voidable, as well as the legal grounds for doing so.

The opposing party (the defendant) has the right to submit and serve a counterclaim for dissolution of marriage if the other party (the defendant) does not agree with what you have said in the petition.

The court would finally issue you a divorce rather than an annulment if the defendant prevailed on that counterclaim.

Marriages are presumed to be lawful and recognized in the state of Florida. As a result, anyone wishing to obtain an annulment confronts a high burden of proof and must present compelling evidence in support of the annulment.

Since there are so many financial and custody ramifications associated with annulment, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney before making any rash decisions about your future.

Petitioning For Annulment in Florida

When the time comes to file a petition for annulment in Florida, you will be required to demonstrate that one of the situations exists in your marriage to be successful.

When you file a petition with the court for an annulment, there will be no spousal support awarded because the marriage has been declared null and void.

Both spouses will also be able to walk away from the marriage with the assets they brought into the union. There will be no distribution of marital property, as there would be in a divorce, because there is no marital property to divide in this case, according to the law.

Final Thoughts on Annulments in Florida

Divorce is far more straightforward than annulment, but it is far more difficult to acquire an annulment.

As a precaution, make sure you have an expert attorney at your side when filing for annulment; otherwise, your case may be dismissed by the court.

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, and she is the Editor of Lifestyle Divorce. Patricia’s worked as the Practice Manager at an International Divorce and Family law firm for over 15 years. She is a qualified Counsellor, and she has had many counselling sessions with people considering or going through a divorce.

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