Mistakes Happen: Florida Annulments
Sometimes, marriages simply do not work out. A fatal flaw is discovered too late, or events conspire to turn people away from spending their lives together. While divorce is an option for most people in these cases, if you have been married only for a very short time, there is another possibility. While they are rare in Florida, it is possible to get a civil annulment if your marriage fits the appropriate criteria.
Definitions and History
It is important to understand that by law, divorces end a marriage that was valid and existing, while annulments declare retroactively that no marriage ever actually took place. This can make a difference primarily for religious and/or cultural reasons, but it is also a valid option for people who simply want the cleanest break possible.
That said, annulments in Florida are comparatively unusual, especially so if one examines the law in other states. The reason for this is that Florida has no annulment statute, even though the process is recognized by Florida judges. Case law exists to back up the existence of the procedure in state, but the legislature has not seen fit to codify these rulings into one easy statute. Thus, even fewer annulments happen than might otherwise, due to the fact that divorce is often easier and cheaper. Those who persist in seeking annulments often do so due to stigma in their culture about divorce, seeing it as quitting or giving up.
Grounds and Other Criteria
Case law has set out specific grounds that must be cited in order for an annulment to have a chance of being granted. Firstly, Florida differentiates, as do most states, between void marriages and voidable marriages. The former is a marriage that was invalid from the moment it ostensibly began, while the latter is a marriage that can be deemed invalid, but is not necessarily so. It is important to keep this distinction in mind because while every void marriage is able to be annulled, not every voidable marriage may be.
The grounds for annulment of a marriage in Florida include:
Bigamy: one or both spouses are married to others at the time. This would render any marriage void.
Lack of consent: This is a voidable marriage, because if someone who lacked the capacity to consent at the time of the marriage later acts as a husband or wife (by, for example, sexually consummating the marriage at a time they can consent) the marriage may not be voided.
Fraud or duress. This would also be a voidable marriage, as there are situations in which fraud may be overcome.
One or both spouses being underage and lacking parental consent at the time of the marriage.
While voidable marriages can be reinstated or the objections can be overcome, if a marriage is void, it may not be resurrected in any way. A new marriage would have to be performed, with the obstacle removed.
Seek The Help of Legal Professionals
This can be an extremely complex area of law, and to ensure that all your questions are answered satisfactorily, it is best to consult a legal professional. The skilled Islamorada divorce attorneys at the Silver Law Group can help guide you through the murky legal waters toward your goal of annulment, answering any questions you may have along the way. Contact our office today to discuss your options.